How do Organisations Inspire Inclusion for Women?

The campaingn theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. What does this inclusion look like in the workplace?

The inclusion of women in the workplace is vital for the long-term success and sustainability of any business. It brings a wide range of perspectives and experiences to the table, which contributes to a healthier work environment and increased innovation. It strives for gender balance in board composition, as diverse boards can offer a range of perspectives and insights beneficial for decision-making and corporate governance.

So how can companies ensure women’s inclusion in the workplace?

One effective strategy for ensuring the inclusion of women in the workplace is to establish mentorship and sponsorship programmes. These programmes can pair more seasoned executives within the organisation with women in junior positions, by offering them advice, support, advocacy and direction.

Mentorship programmes create opportunities for businesses to support women by helping them to build their self-esteem, develop new skills, navigate potential challenges in their careers and expand their professional network. Mentorship also provides women with insights into navigating the complexities and politics of the business world.

Sponsorship goes beyond mentorship, by actively advocating women’s career progression within the organisation. Sponsors use their influence and networks to create opportunities for women, recommend them for key projects and promotions, and actively support their professional development.

This not only fosters the advancement of women in the workplace, but also creates a strong succession of future effective female leaders.

Implementing flexible work policies is another way businesses significantly contribute to the inclusion of women in the workplace. Workplace policies that allow for telecommuting, variable scheduling and shorter work weeks can immensely assist working women in juggling their professional and personal lives.

Employees and the company alike can reap the benefits of a better work-life balance in the form of enhanced happiness at work, which boosts morale, healthier minds and productivity.

Corporate cultures that actively promote diversity and inclusion are better positioned to help women achieve long-term success in the workplace.

Fostering a workplace where every employee feels heard and valued entails encouraging open communication and appreciating varied viewpoints.

When companies put diversity and inclusion first, they can foster an environment where women feel safe to share their ideas.

To further advance women’s status in the workplace, organisations must eradicate structural and historical inequalities that have limited women’s access to opportunities for advancement. This can be achieved by, for example, eliminating gender biases and paving the way for women to be represented fairly at all levels of the organisation.

Furthermore, companies can gain a competitive edge and improve their organisational performance by harnessing and leveraging the creativity and talent that women exhibit.

Lastly, a more inclusive and flexible workplace can only be achieved if women are given priority through the introduction of flexible working arrangements and deliberate attempts to eliminate gender inequities. By embracing gender diversity and supporting women in balancing their professional and personal lives, businesses can foster a more equitable and productive workforce, while contributing to societal goals of equality and social justice.

Perhaps more Namibian companies can participate in the four-day work week six-month trial, and use the opportunity to re-align their policies to be more inclusive for women.

  • Morna Ikosa is a communications consultant with an affinity for sustainability development and governance issues. The views expressed in this article are hers and not those of her employer or affiliates.

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