You might’ve heard it’s Women’s History Month.
To mark the occasion, we’re writing to share a few concrete steps organizations can take to show up and be an effective advocate for women leaders.
We celebrate women leaders at Incite year round, and we know many of you do too. It’s a smart investment strategy, it’s good for teams – and it’s the right thing to do.
But there’s more we can all do. Supporting women is about more than celebrating those who bravely lead; it’s also about making sure the teams and organizations we’re a part of are welcoming environments for women on a daily basis. We’re using this month to also reflect on how our day-to-day workplace decisions impact, and ideally amplify, more women on the teams we’re part of.
Here are five tactics we’ve found helpful.
1. Embrace a flexible work policy.
Working mothers face many challenges. Try to find an affordable child care option and you’ll know what we mean. A workplace that’s flexible on how and where work gets done has many benefits – including being more accessible to women.
Sandy Gibson, the Co-Founder of Better Place Forests, embraces a flexible work structure. “Many families have to sacrifice career opportunities to live in communities that are best for their families, rather than one partner’s job. Becoming a remote-first company has allowed us to hire incredibly talented people – especially working mothers – who can now make the right choice for both their family and their career.”
2. Bring as many women to the table as possible.
The best teams encourage productive disagreement and debate. As a leader, you want to be pushed and you want to be challenged to ensure you’re making the best decision possible. You don’t want a team who rubber stamps whatever you say.
That’s why the best leaders make it a priority to bring female voices to the table. They focus persistently on hiring female staff and recruiting female board members because they understand the value and perspective they offer.
Peter Reinhardt, Co-Founder and CEO of Charm Industrial, champions this mindset. “A diversity of voices, experiences and skills is super important in any organization. Gender diversity with solid representation of women at Charm (leadership, technical, fabrication, operations, etc.) is a huge boost to our ability to execute, see around corners better, and think about the problems of climate change holistically.”
3. Equal offers for equal positions.
Unequal compensation is one of the ways gender bias is most often perpetuated. Well-intentioned leaders fall into this trap more easily than you might expect.
The best way to avoid perpetuating the pay gap is to make equal offers for equal positions, and to make your offers non-negotiable.
Justin Briggs, Co-Founder and COO of Antora Energy, takes a similar approach. “We're all-in on supporting equal pay for equal work. To this end, we've created a compensation band structure based on job function to help eliminate inequities in pay. We share these bands openly during our interviews, and we audit compensation across the company to ensure compliance. We believe that a role should pay what it pays, even if people have not been paid equitably at their previous roles.”
4. Prioritize promoting from within.
The most effective leaders are lifted up by an effective team. This doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because they coach and support each person on their team to become the best version of themselves.
That’s why, when it comes time to hire for a new leadership role, we think you should start by looking within. Our friend Amol Deshpande at Divergent recently wrote on LinkedIn about this issue. “We do bring in outside talent when we don't have the right talent in house. But our firm view is that we want to promote from within whenever we possibly can. And that is for all roles, whether junior or senior.”
5. Save room on your cap table.
For now, venture capital funds continue to flow fast and furious. If you’re a founder, there’s never been a better time to fundraise. But that doesn’t mean you should cede your cap table to the biggest checks.
Instead, you should take advantage of this funding environment to save room on your cap table for people who add value and recognize the importance of diversity. Don’t just take a check from any funder – take a check from one who understands what you’re building, and can help you achieve your most important milestones. In our experience, more often than not this person is a woman.
Take it from Gina Bartasi, Founder of Kindbody. “It's always been important for me from day one to bring in high-caliber women that not only add value to the company I'm building, but to create value for women I care about.”
Do you have any other tactics you’ve found to be effective at amplifying female voices? Let us know!