So What, You’re a “Best Place to Work”. Are You a Great Place for Women to Work?
By: Jessica Gendron, President
The Center for Leadership Excellence
Me: Tell me about your organization’s culture.
Business Leader: Well, we’re a “Best Places to Work”.
There’s an overwhelming sense of pride that an organization – and its employees – possess when they’ve been identified as a “Best Place to Work” – and they should be proud. Achieving a designation of “Best Places to Work” is no small task and it should give an organization a sense of pride that they’re doing good things for their employees. This is not intended to be a slight on the program or its honorees.
Me: Are you a great place for women to work?
Business Leader: …
I’ve received a myriad of responses ranging from “I don’t know,” to “yes, but…”. Regardless of what the response is, I’ve learned something from these conversations:
Most leaders don’t always know what it takes to be a great place for women to work. It’s not just a couple of female executive leaders or a great maternity policy. It’s not just flexible work hours or a Women’s Employee Group in the organization. It’s definitely not just a really good sexual harassment program. Being a great place for women to work requires addressing culture, systems, and people within every layer of an organization, with a moderately different approach (learn more about how, here).
What’s important for leaders to understand is that being a “best place to work” and being a “great place for women to work” are not the same thing.
Being a great place for women to work requires leaders to understand that holistically employees can be having a great experience, but when we explore employee experience based on gender, those experiences can be very different. In fact, we know (from mountains of data), that men and women have drastically different experiences, outcomes, and opportunities in most workplaces.
I believe achieving a “Best Places to Work” designation shouldn’t be a destination; it should be the starting line.
It should be the baseline expectation we have for our employee experience. From there, we can work to ensure each subsection of employees is having an equally positive experience, achieving similar outcomes, and getting equal opportunities.
So you’re a “Best Places to Work”. Now it’s time to become a Great Place for Women to Work.