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Posted on 8 March 2023

5 Employee Recognition Examples to Empower Women at Work

3 minute read

Happy teams create happy businesses. Yet, female employees still face multiple barriers to equal opportunity in the workplace. Whilst we’ve seen businesses make strides in how they level the playing field in recent years, there is still much work to be done to empower women in the workplace. 

Latest research highlights a gender gap in workplace recognition. 71% of women feel underappreciated at work, and due to this, 42% report decreases in their productivity and 38% lack confidence in senior management and the business’ strategic goals. 

Recognition plays a fundamental role in cultivating an inclusive, empowered environment where employees of all backgrounds can unleash their potential and thrive. Yet, this too often remains an undervalued tool in maximising and retaining the brilliant female talent behind a brand. As a result, businesses miss out on the unlocked potential of female employees at all levels, and consequently sacrifice the commercial advantage of a gender inclusive workforce.  

Now more than ever, HR leaders must implement effective employee recognition to engage and empower female talent and cultivate a gender-inclusive workplace – not just on International Women’s Day, but every day. 

Why women need recognition in the workplace

Whilst we’ve seen some progress made in creating a more gender inclusive workplace, the historic gap in gender equality still highlights a long road ahead for employers to truly support and empower their female talent with equal opportunity. Despite women now representing 76% of today’s workforce, they face fundamental challenges stopping them from maximising their potential in line with male employees – including discrimination, sexual harassment, unequal pay, caregiving responsibilities and microaggressions. Businesses must make quicker and more proactive strides in better championing inclusion for all, with women representing just one demographic who highlight the disparity in opportunity equity that still exists today.

Lean In’s 2023 Women in the Workplace Report highlights stark statistics illustrating this. When it comes to inspiring women’s career progression and achievements, 3 in 4 women under aged 30 aspire to become senior leaders in their careers, yet only 1 in 4 C-Suite roles are occupied by females. This rises to 1 in 16 for women of colour. Plus, women employees make on average 17% less than men each week.

And with the majority of female employees feeling underappreciated and unseen at work, there is an urgent need for employers to prioritise recognition and reward to create an inclusive and empowering workplace for all.

Five employee recognition examples for women

1. Celebrating performance at all levels. 

43% of female employees value line manager and peer recognition above receiving a higher salary. Regularly celebrating performance is a powerful employee recognition example to value the impact of female role models at all levels across the business, from senior leaders to entry-level positions. Recognition should not be exclusive to exceeded KPIs, but should also value performance, effort, innovation, and creativity. Recognition from both line managers and peers creates a culture that motivates and promotes visibility of female talent within the business, inspiring future leaders. 

2. Delivering timely reward. 

Pairing recognition with meaningful and timely rewards, such as digital wallet points or vouchers, development opportunities, time off, or bonuses is an effective employee recognition example that inspires and values optimised performance. Reward can also be closely tied to embodying company values, with each being personalised to individual preferences.  

3. Providing inclusive benefits. 

Providing benefits that represent the broad and unique needs of female employees is critical to enabling equity of opportunity. Benefits offers must address unique needs, including access to flexible working, maternity leave, childcare vouchers, and family-planning and menopause support. It is crucial to continuously evolve the benefits package to align with changing needs, and regular engagement surveys can help identify any gaps in the existing offer. 

4. Leveraging internal award nominations. 

Delivering internal award schemes that enable both managerial and peer-to-peer nominations is another powerful employee recognition example. This cultivates an inclusive culture by delivering recognition across a breadth of areas and encourages equal representation of female nominees. Awards can be linked to performance and culture, with reward paired with Bronze, Silver and Gold winners to maximise impact.  

5. Recognising the key moments. 

Recognising key moments such as birthdays, service milestones, and achievements outside of job role performance is an effective employee recognition example that instils belonging and community for all. National calendar days also provide a great opportunity for managers and peers to recognise one another – including International Women’s Day, where the spotlight is placed on the brilliant women across the business.  

Recognition is a key tool for championing an inclusive culture that empowers employees to reach their potential. By implementing these employee recognition examples, HR leaders can transform their employee experience and unleash the value of every individual across the business no matter their background.  

Five ways to create a more supportive environment for women

1. Encourage storytelling

Authentic visibility of underrepresented talent groups, including women, is key to creating a more inclusive working environment. This can include cyclical internal ‘spotlights’ on women from all levels of the business, to share their professional background and experience to date to inspire others. This could also pave the way for introducing mentoring relationships to support women with their development and skills.

2. Gender inclusive benefits

A supportive employer ensures their people are meaningfully empowered to be their best both in- and outside of the workplace. For championing gender inclusivity particularly, this must include reviewing current employee benefits offer to ensure this includes adequate maternity and care-giver leave, flexible working policies, women’s health benefits (including fertility, pregnancy and menopause support), family healthcare plans and so on. To ensure the offer reflects the needs of female talent, it’s important to distribute regular surveys and feedback opportunities.

3. Amplify voices

To deliver a positive and supportive workplace experience, employers need to first understand the current strengths and weaknesses of their workplace. This requires regular feedback loops to be prioritised, from short polls to long-form surveys and encouraging new ideas, frequent quantitative and qualitative insights will drive informed and meaningful action where required.

4. Boost connection

Connection and engagement across the workforce community are key to elevating female role models (and male allies!) across the business and telling stories from brilliant women of all backgrounds. Dedicate a centralised and consistent hub to host this which is accessible across the organisation. This is particularly important for disconnected, deskless or dispersed businesses to champion visibility for all.

5. Review compensation and reward

Salary bands and reward budgets should reflect a gender equal workplace. Employers should have solid strategies in place to close any gender disparity in their pay as a tangible example of their commitment to level the playing field.

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