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Tips for Improving Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

Due to the economic challenges in the workplace, sometimes we're so focused on what needs to be improved, that we don't take a moment or two to acknowledge some of the progress that has already (and is consistently) taking place.

Take workplace diversity, for example. Studies reflect that when it comes to age, race and gender, we have come a long way in our corporate settings and offices. Between 2001 and 2010, the amount of women in the workplace as grown 3.3%, the Baby Boomer generation is thriving as employees and when it comes to race, interestingly enough, minorities' statistics are growing while Caucasians are declining (dropping from 113.88 million to 112.75 million over the past decade).

Yet, specifically when it comes to gender diversity, there continues to be a need for growth and development. If you are someone who would like to be proactive about improving it within your office, we have enclosed five helpful tips below:

Consciously break the stereotypes. Even with a lot of the progressions in our society, when you hear the word "secretary", what's the first gender that comes to mind? When you think of an "engineer", there are probably still a lot of people who aren't thinking about someone in a skirt and heels. When you are in the midst of hiring new people for positions, be very careful about how you phrase the positions. Perhaps use administrative assistant instead of secretary and put up posters with a man and a woman on it for your engineer job. Try and make things as "gender neutral" as possible. That's a good way to get a good mixture of both men and woman applying for the jobs that you have available.

Engage everyone. Say that you hired three people who all have the best online executive MBA degrees. This means that they all basically have the same kind of education, right? This means that they all, in many ways, equally bring something to the table. That said, another way to improve gender diversity is to engage all of your employees. Send out surveys that do not request the person's gender. Hold staff meetings to hear everyone's opinions and ideas. Give teams assignments for different tasks, rotate them from time-to-time and allow different people to have a leadership opportunity to see everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Don't assume that a man might be stronger with technology or a woman may be better with organizing things. Switch it up a bit and the people who you have on staff just may surprise you.

Get educated. One of the best ways to increase gender diversity is to understand more about it. There are organizations all over the country that provide information, tools, workshops and seminars on how to increase gender diversity within the workplace. One website that provides quite a bit of knowledge on this issue is GenderTraining.com. Make a concerted effort to read statistics on gender diversity, to network with organizations that focus on building it within the workplace and also attending seminars that are within your city or region. Knowledge is power and the more that you know about gender diversity, the more powerful your workplace environment can become.

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