5 Key Strategies to Create Positive Change for Women in the Workplace


Through intentional policies and actions, companies can drive positive change for women’s success in the workplace today. To do so, we must first create the opportunity for women to rise and thrive. But how? Here are five strategies companies can use to initiate change for women:

Seamless Career On-Ramps and Off-Ramps

Having a family creates a common off-ramp for women, but research shows that other factors play a significant role in the decision to leave the workforce as well, including professional status, opportunities for advancement, personal health, or care for aging relatives. 

More visible and concrete ways for women to off-ramp and on-ramp without penalty would enable more women to return to meaningful work. The fact is that few women who leave the workforce return in a significant way. And of the ones that do, only a fraction find full-time jobs that allow them to grow and develop in their careers. Companies that are willing to evaluate Returners based on their potential and transferable skills will attract exceptional talent currently sitting on the sidelines who are looking for a path back to work. Our experience shows that these Returners become loyal employees who perform well and advance.

Supportive Culture and Programs

Many of our work environments are still managed by men and represent male-dominated cultures. Women hold a much smaller number of leadership roles, even at the manager level. Today, only 1 in 4 C-suite executives is a woman, and only 1 in 20 is a Woman of Color.

Initiatives that increase women’s sense of belonging provide stronger ties to and support from the organization’s community of women, and offer leadership training, primarily in soft skills – self-advocacy and seizing opportunities, are powerful ways to level the playing field and elevate the impact of women at companies. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are one step in this direction, but they often don’t provide support at the moment it is needed and are not sufficiently personalized. Mentoring is also valuable, but maintaining the quality of the experience can be challenging. Our experience has shown that intentional women’s leadership development programs, based on cohorts of women sharing experiences and learning with and from each other, is the most effective way to create an environment where women feel valued and can advance.  

Pay Equity

On average, women earn only 82 cents for each dollar earned by men. This inequality becomes even more pronounced among women of color, as African American women receive 60 cents and Latinas earn 55 cents for every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men make. If women and men were paid the same for doing the same jobs, perhaps the choice to take a career break would be more evenly divided between men and women. 

The pay gap has forced millions of women out of the workforce due to childcare responsibilities since the decision of who leaves the workforce is often based on economics. 

Affordable and Accessible Childcare

Data shows that the United States’ gross domestic product could rise by $1 trillion if women participated in the workforce at the same rate as in other developed economies. By making childcare affordable, we are not only powering our businesses but our economy as well. At one level, this is a public policy issue, but covering part of childcare costs can help companies stand out, build their employer brand, and attract and hire strong female workers.

Flexible Work Options

The best companies meet women where they are in their lives and careers, regardless of age or stage. They offer part-time, reduced hours, or a flexible 40-hour work week — without penalizing career growth. Creating tracks for individual contributors, rethinking travel requirements, and relaxing in-person requirements can all play a part in attracting great talent, keeping them engaged, providing growth, and instilling loyalty. 

Looking Ahead

The success of women in the workplace depends on the intentional actions and policies implemented by companies. By adopting strategies that support women’s specific needs in their career journeys, organizations can power diversity and improve outcomes: more diverse environments have been shown to also be better performing. It’s time for companies to take proactive steps in creating environments where women can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential. If you’d like assistance in your journey to empower women, please reach out to start a conversation about how reacHIRE can help.