What Is Women's History Month, and How Can You Acknowledge It at Work?
You've likely heard the name of the commemoration, but have you asked yourself, what is Women's History Month all about? Women's History Month started in 1981, with Congress requesting the creation of a Women's History Week in March. In 1987, the National Women's History Project asked Congress to designate the month of March as Women's History Month. Today, March is a month in which the United States recognizes the achievements of women in history.
Whether you're an employer or an employee who would like to incorporate Women's History Month into your workplace this March, the following tips will help you approach the subject matter thoughtfully.
Recommend reading for those interested in the subject
One way to promote the spread of information about women's history is to provide opportunities for reading. Some workplaces also host meetings to discuss the reading, like a book club. This activity allows co-workers to come together and discuss the readings, perhaps to develop new ideas to improve the workplace for everybody. These meetings can also enhance connections in the workplace, allowing for more social support among co-workers.
Host guest speakers
Guest speakers can engage employees about important issues related to women in the workplace. Speakers may address professional topics, including gender-based wage gaps, contract negotiations, and other subjects that might impact women at work. These talks can be inspirational, educational, or community-focused.
If you are still determining what types of speakers to book, you can first turn to women in leadership roles in the industry or organization. You can also look to the greater community for empowering voices. One option is to look for local organizations that focus on issues like homelessness, child care, and domestic violence that may be able to provide insight into issues the community is facing. You can also turn to entrepreneurs within your community who have experienced success.
Organize skill-building seminars
Skill-building seminars can address professional issues specific to your office but may also focus on broader topics women face at work. For example, workshops may address networking, self-promotion, mentorship, and work-life balance.
Skill-building seminars address several concerns women face in the workplace. For example, many individuals report that they lack access to training. Workshops throughout the year can help women have more access to skill-based training within their careers and the industries they serve.
Establish employee resource groups
Employee resource groups are committees led by staff members, often with different identities. Resource groups may center around gender identity, ethnicity, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, parental status, shared interests, and more. These groups are often available for groups that feel underrepresented in the workplace.
The groups support an inclusive company culture, a positive work environment, and opportunities for professional development. Resource groups can go a long way in improving social support for women at work and boosting mental health in the workplace. When employees have the opportunity to relate to others and feel less alone, they believe that their employer is listening to them. This effort can improve employee retention as well.
"A workplace may recognize employees by offering opportunities for promotion or making the timeline for advancement more transparent."
Find ways to recognize employees
One way to address the role of women in the workplace is to recognize employee achievements. While a workplace doesn't necessarily need to offer monthly award ceremonies, acknowledging a job well done can be beneficial in retaining employees. Explore the following ways you can extend this recognition:
- Offer employees perks or incentives for reaching milestones, such as work anniversaries or achieving training and certification credentials.
- Look for media opportunities within your community to highlight the accomplishments of talented women in your workplace. Business journals and community publications are two sources you can contact. Ask whether the media outlets are planning special coverage to highlight Women's History Month and offer to connect individuals from your workplace for interview opportunities. This public relations effort can go a long way to spotlight the talent within your workforce.
- Create opportunities for promotion or make the timeline for advancement more transparent. One issue women face in the workplace is the lack of access to career advancement, and in some cases, women feel that advancement is less accessible to them.
Fundraise for a local organization or event
A fundraiser is a great way to raise awareness about local issues that impact women. An employer may ask that organization members participate in an event like a charity run to raise funds, or the company might pledge a specific amount of money to the group or event. For example, an employer may pledge a particular dollar amount to help a nonprofit organization build a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
In other instances, the company may have a presence at an event that supports community members. For example, the company may host a booth that accepts canned food donations for women and children living in poverty. This engagement helps establish a company as a leader in the community.
Host networking events
Networking events allow women in different industries to connect. Networking events also provide women the opportunity to get advice from experts and peers. Networking is not only about making career advancements now, but also helping women connect with mentors and social connections. At these networking events, women can become inspired by others in their industries who have made significant achievements. They can also meet with others for collaboration. For many entrepreneurs, these networking events are crucial.
Discuss work-life balance policies
Work-life balance can be difficult for many women to achieve. Some women feel torn between family and work life, all the while trying to pursue personal goals related to education and hobbies. The workplace can provide policies that promote a healthy work-life balance to ensure women don't feel overworked when they're on the clock.
Work-life balance policies may include guidelines regarding answering emails when not in the office, for example. Other policies could cover ensuring that deadlines are set far enough out for employees to manage their time and work toward completing projects without interfering with personal plans. Employees might also rally for improved paid time off or remote work agreements.
Policies that promote work-life balance are good for organizations as well as employees. For example, the organization may experience fewer employees experiencing burnout when those workers don't feel that they have to answer emails and phone calls when they're not at work.
Women's History Month provides a reminder of the achievements women have made in the workplace. If you are still looking for a role in which you feel valued, now is a great time to upload your resume to CareerBuilder. Employers can find your resume and contact you if your qualifications and experience match what they seek for open positions.
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