For over 100 years, International Women’s Day has been a reminder to recognize women’s contributions to the American workforce and economy. Women in the workplace have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go before women are treated equally to men when it comes to financial compensation and social acknowledgment at work. For example, men still receive more recognition at work for their successes than women according to a recent survey by Bamboo HR.
With this mind, consider these three Quality of Lifehacks for supporting women’s success in your organization in celebration of International Women’s Day and every other day of the year.
Offer credit—not competition. Women’s contributions can easily go unnoticed at work, says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and founder of the Lean In Foundation. Social science research shows that women are given credit for successful projects less often than their male colleagues—especially when they’re working in teams. Compounding the issue, women are less likely to promote their own accomplishments, and are more likely to attribute positive outcomes to external factors.
Find ways to recognize women in your organization, especially in teams, where they may have a lower profile. When discussing a colleague, be sure to mention her accomplishments, because she may not have gotten the all the credit she deserved.
Call out double standards. Sandberg also points out a double standard in the workplace called the “likeability penalty.” This refers to the paradox that female leaders are expected to be nurturing and warm, while male leaders are permitted to be confident and self-assured. When a woman challenges these expectations with assertive behavior, she may be perceived as “difficult,” “aggressive” or “abrasive.” If you find yourself or your colleagues falling into this trap, take a moment to ask: Would I feel this way if a man did the same thing?
Prioritize sponsorship. How do you know if you have a mentor or a sponsor? According to founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation Sylvia Ann Hewlett, mentors provide advice while sponsors take action. Sponsors make introductions, find opportunities and advocate on behalf of the women they back. The relationship can be more demanding, but they’re also more fulfilling.
“Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Sponsors, in contrast, are much more vested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them,” Hewlett writes in the New York Times.
These relationships have a tremendous impact. With the backing of a sponsor at work, women are more likely to seek a raise and report satisfaction with their jobs. Examine the mentorship program at your workplace and consider how it can foster true sponsorship.
How do you celebrate the accomplishments of women at your workplace? Tell us in the comments.