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How to help women feel more supported and engaged at work?


During the Great Resignation, which saw employees voluntarily leaving their jobs en masse, recent statistics revealed that 29% of women thought about leaving their current jobs, reducing hours or dropping out of the workforce altogether. In the after glow of International Women’s Day last week, and during the Women’s History Month in March, many businesses will be wondering how to help more women feel supported and empowered at work.

Caroline Gleeson, CEO at Occupop, leading recruitment software experts, said: “International Women’s Day is a day of celebration and advocacy for women’s rights and equality around the world, but it doesn’t have to end there. This spirit of inclusion can be a springboard to fairer practices all year round.”


Caroline Gleeson

How businesses can improve inclusivity and retain their top female talent 

Inspire inclusion
The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, which can be embraced on an individual or organisational level. It can take as little as striking the #InspireInclusion pose for a selfie, yes we can do that beyond the IWD too,  or campaigning for wider structural change.

Of course, your efforts to inspire inclusion don’t have to end there and can spark an agenda for change:

Understanding the Gender Disparity
The data from Lean In and McKinsey can make for stark reading and points to gender disparity in the impact of the Great Resignation.

Why are more women contemplating leaving the workforce compared to men?

Research from PWC indicates a 14% average pay gap between men and women (by median hourly earnings), which would take over 50 years to close at the historical rate of progress.

This is partially explained by the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ – which describes the loss of earnings experienced when raising children – and is exacerbated by unequal childcare workloads taken on by women in almost every country in the world.

Other commonly cited challenges may include unfair work distribution, limited career advancement opportunities and an inadequate work-life balance.

How to help women feel supported and engaged at work

Equal pay and benefits
Ensuring pay equity is a fundamental step in retaining female talent. Progress towards parity has been exceedingly slow over the last decade, and the UK has slumped to 14th in the Women in Work index since 2020.

Businesses can conduct regular pay audits to identify and rectify any pay disparities. Transparent communication about pay structures is also key to building trust amongst your workforce.

This can also be extended to extra benefits, including parental leave, childcare assistance, and female wellness programs.

Building an inclusive company culture
Your workforce must be reflective of the environment in which it operates. Companies must proactively work to eliminate gender biases and foster an environment where women feel heard, valued, and respected.

Your recruitment software can help you here. Caroline Gleeson, CEO at Occupop explains: “Using recruitment software, such as an applicant tracking system, can help eradicate unconscious bias when hiring talent.

“It’s important to understand that human hiring systems may be prone to implicit bias where your talent acquisition team unknowingly overlooks candidates from certain genders, races or physical abilities.

“Unbiased artificial intelligence meanwhile will treat every candidate equitably, sifting through CVs on a purely meritocratic basis.”

This shift to a more diverse workplace can send positive signals to your existing female talent and, in turn, can build loyalty to your business.

Mentorship and Career Development
In 2022 alone, 150,000 female-founded businesses were set up across the UK, providing a great mentorship opportunity network.

Many women face barriers to climbing the corporate ladder due to a lack of mentorship and access to networking opportunities. Combat this by establishing mentorship initiatives that connect female employees with experienced business leaders who can provide valuable insight.

Additionally, organisations should prioritise career development programs to enhance the skills and nurture their female workforce, smashing ‘glass ceilings’ with equal access to promotions and leadership roles. Ensure that women are not limited to entry-level occupations.

Flexible working arrangements help women feel supported and engaged at work
Finally, it’s important to recognise that women often bear a disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities. In a 2023 survey by Deloitte, 14% of women who left their jobs cited a lack of flexibility in working hours as their reason for leaving.

Consider incorporating flexible working hours, remote working, and compressed workweeks, as it can empower your female employees to find a work/life balance that suits them.

As UK businesses emerge from the ‘Great Resignation’, prioritising the retention of female talent is imperative. IWD and Women’s History Month can be the perfect catalysts for a fairer, more representative workforce.


PA Life is sharing interviews with inspirational women throughout March to mark Women’s History Month and to help keep the discussion of inclusion in our minds.