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12 actions to promote women in SMEs

There are several policies and actions you can implement to support women's development and accompany the new impetus to women's empowerment in business.

Business and Enterprises

The reality of women in business is far from equal. Concrete actions that you can address in everyday life to promote women's empowerment in enterprises and SMEs:

  1. Avoid assigning tasks by gender. Review your preconceptions about what a man or a woman can bring to a job. There are many factors that define the ideal person for a job, and sex is just one more variable. Are there women mechanics or cadets in your SME?
  2. Keep them in mind for positions of responsibility. Women's entry into the labour market has taken decades, but it is customary that they are left aside when it comes to promotion or job growth. That “glass roof” is a barrier that no one sees, but the numbers show that it still exists. How many women are in managerial positions?
  3. Ensure equal wages for equal tasks. Pay equity is an essential right. However, surveys show that women usually earn 20 to 40% less than their male peers. Make sure you don't fall into the common places of “I pay a man more because he is a breadwinner of his family” or “don't raise her because he still spends everything on clothes.”
  4. Avoid discrimination in job interviews. It is not only about giving equal opportunities for men and women to access a job, but also breaking with macho “vices” such as investigating more deeply into women if they are as a couple or plan to have children.
  5. Review prejudices and mandates in family businesses. The role of women in the family business is very varied. Understanding where the ideas that keep the owner's daughter in customer care while training the son in business management comes from is the starting point of a coexistence that drives the family SMEs. Creating family protocols with gender equity is a huge challenge for family businesses.
  6. Take care of the language and other sexist “details”. Prejudices are sometimes expressed in relatively minor aspects, which some time ago were tolerated and today are aggressive for many women: uniforms, names of posts, rules of work, informal communication. Many airlines, for example, are reformulating their skirt uniforms and high studs for their on-board auxiliaries and replacing them with more comfortable and task-appropriate ones, beyond aesthetic function. Avoiding macho or inappropriate language in whatsapp groups or work meetings is a way to accompany the change in day to day.
  7. Buy from women's enterprises. Typically, SMEs owners have had to overcome more barriers than their male peers. I take this factor into account when choosing suppliers and give priority and support to women-led businesses.
  8. Provide training opportunities to the women on your team Of course, all employees should have access to training, but be sure to pay special attention to offering it to women and encourage them to participate, so that they can fully realize their potential.
  9. Promote the creation of women-led enterprises. If from your place in the business you have the ability to support new businesses, especially drive those that contribute to inclusion.
  10. Provide support to families. While families are not usually made up of only women, they are the ones who in most cases care for babies, schools or care for sick people. Providing flexible leave and hours, providing nursery and breastfeeding, paying home support and other benefits often help to ensure that the employment development of younger women is not cut.
  11. Create protocols and train everyone. Awareness courses, internal standards and protocols for action against harassment and other situations that may affect employee relationships can help men and women internalize rules, and the company, address conflicts with equity and gender perspective.
  12. Mentoring from woman to woman. If you are an experienced company woman you probably should have faced situations where gender issues interspersed with others that make the life of the business. Become a mentor of young people who start their career so that they can break the “glass roof” (the external constraints that seem to prevent promotion in organizations) and “pull our feet out of the mud” (internal constraints that keep us stuck to the ground and do not allow us to grow).

Source: Good Negocios

Publication Date: 08/03/2019

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