With a new generation of female business owners gaining more prominence in this fast-changing economy, there has been an increase in discussion about the need for increased opportunity for women in the workplace. For those that have been working in the business environment for years, it may be difficult to fathom why a new generation of business women is demanding more from their businesses. It may seem somewhat of a stretch to think that with so many women entering the workforce, the workplace will change and become more accommodating for women and for those of other races.
In fact, business professionals recognize that the changes that are happening in society at large, as well as within the business world, are directly related to changes in the marketplace, which has made it possible for women to do more in the workforce and have greater control over their careers. In many cases, business has been working to address these problems by hiring and maintaining more female employees, and in some instances, even focusing on more women as clients.
However, the field has largely remained focused more on men and on the problem of workplace sexism, or a lack of women in the workplace. Even after the recent “Women’s Conference” in Chicago, which was a forum for female business owners to gather to discuss workplace issues and to discuss how their companies can improve their ability to attract and retain more women customers, the focus remained more on the problems in the workplace rather than the overall improvement of women’s opportunities in the marketplace.
Women and Business, a book written by business consultant and author, Sheryl Sandberg, offers a great example of the need to shift the focus from the “problem” of workplace discrimination to the “opportunity” that lies in making the workplace more welcoming and supportive for women. In her book, she describes three ways that organizations can begin by focusing more on their demographics. They can look at hiring more women, creating programs and other outreach programs that appeal to the needs of women, and hiring minority candidates who have higher opportunities for advancement.
The reality is that the “problem” of workplace discrimination, while real, is often not nearly as prevalent as the “opportunity” of increasing the number of female employees. The real issue here is that discrimination is not just limited to women in the workplace but to anyone in society who may be discriminated against. The need to focus on increasing the number of women in the workforce must be coupled with greater efforts to eliminate the problem of workplace sexism in society.
If you’re in business, I suggest that you look at your company as an employer and the future of your business. There are many ways you can address the issue of workplace gender discrimination and the need for more diversity in the marketplace. And the good news is that your company can be one of the leaders in providing more opportunities for more women in business today. In the meantime, if you want to help your company take advantage of the changes taking place in society, consider all the reasons why the situation of workplace discrimination must be addressed and consider all of your options to improve the situation in the workplace.