We’re The Key to Workplaces That Actually Work

We can empower ourselves and our coworkers.

Ashley Batz Photography

Is technology a problem or a solution for a healthy work environment? How do we make C-suite jobs more attractive to women so they don’t take themselves out of the running for these jobs? How do we get companies to value female professional development and inclusion training as a core to their people policies and not a separate concern? What role does paternity leave play in equality at work and at home? Which companies are doing things right?

Professional women have these big questions on their minds. We got some answers at The Assembly’s panel on Creating Workplaces That Actually Work. Jaime-Alexis Fowler, the founder of Empower Work, led the breakfast-time discussion about resources and approaches we could bring to our own workplaces. Empower Work is one such resource. A non-profit powered by trained volunteers, it provides on-demand support for job-related dilemmas, like microagressions or surprised performance reviews. You simply text Empower Work and in a matter of minutes you will be matched with a volunteer who will help guide you to a solution. The average conversation last about 90 minutes.

Changes We Can Make Today

Minn Kim, an investor at Bloomberg Beta, Alex Coonce, VP of People at Glint, and Elizabeth Weingarten, a researcher, journalist, and behavioral scientist, joined Jaime-Alexis on the panel. When ask to share one concrete change or idea women could bring to their workplace, they shared these insights:

  • Increase access among lower-level employees to tools that drive success among executives, like career coaching. You shouldn’t have to be a CEO or SVP to have this kind of support.
  • Consider who is going to model healthy behavior in your company. For example, if you offer benefits like paternity leave, you should have at least one senior leader taking that benefit so the employees know it’s OK to use it.
  • Treat remote team members as more than a face on a video call. You can host a remote team hangout so they can bond with each other, or be sure to ask them questions about their life outside of work, too. You want to know the person not just the worker.
  • During check-ins with direct reports, start off the conversation by simply asking: “How are you?” It creates a space for them to open up.
  • Share process learnings. If an email got a great response from a client, screenshot it and share it with the team. If you figured out a faster way to do something, record your screen so others can see that flow.
  • Evaluate your evaluation process. Is there something you can add to encourage behavior? You could add a section on mentorship, for example, so people know it’s actually valued and they are getting credit for it.

We also walked away with two new book recommendations. What Works, by Iris Bohnet, which lays out evidence-based solutions to gender inequality, As well as When, by Daniel H. Pink, which looks at the power of good timing. It’s time to get to work!

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