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Why you shouldn't wait for Secretary's Day to recognise the women in your workplace

by , 04 March 2014
Perhaps you're a designated employer, required by law to adhere to the employment equity regulations. But even if you're not, affirmative action principles should be a business priority, allowing you to give different groups of people equal opportunities and doing good business. One group of people that must be empowered in the workplace, is women. As the experts behind the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf point out, women are a designated group, meaning that if you're a designated employer, you HAVE TO correctly represent and empower your female employees, as per regulations.

Seven principles that'll guide your empowerment efforts toward success

The UN Women organisation has outlined the Women's Empowerment Principles – a set of practical guidelines for the empowerment of women in the workplace.

Interestingly, the CEO's of over 550 large corporate around the world have signed a document (called the CEO Statement of Support for the Women's Empowerment Principles), pledging to make these principles central to their organisations' operations.

Take a look at these principles . Are you applying them in your workplace, or are women getting the short end of the stick?

In brief, the principles of women empowerment are:

  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality: Does your business have high-level empowerment goals and targets, and are managers' performances being measured relative to these?
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination: This one speaks for itself.
  3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers: Remember that women have very specific health and safety needs, especially if they are or plan to be, pregnant. By not having the right health and safety procedures in place (and educating your female employees about these), you're quite possibly guilty of discrimination.
  4. Promote education, training and professional development for women: This is especially important for the development of a skilled workforce.
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women: Partner with women-owned businesses, for example.
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy: This could be as simple as sponsoring support groups for single moms, or getting on board with initiatives like the Cell C Take a Girl-Child to Work project.
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality: This one, too, speaks for itself.

You can also address the business's policies, to ensure they support women in the workplace. For example, you could think about offering new moms a flexi-time option for a few weeks or months, to help them settle back into the workplace after having a baby.

Put these principles into practice today, and you'll soon reap the benefits of a workplace that's achieving true employment equity.

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