Although mental health issues affect millions of Canadians each year, women are considered twice as likely to suffer from severe depression than men. In light of International Women’s Day on March 8, I want to share a few ways you can support the women you work with.
Encourage an inclusive culture
Organizations need to create a company culture that is inclusive and advocates positivity, collaboration and teamwork. Empowering women especially—not only to feel better about themselves—but to actively praise other women is a simple way to normalize celebrating the accomplishments of women in your organization.
I’ve found it helpful when building a positive work environment for women to include the following activities:
- Coordinating team-building exercises to build trust and strengthen relationships
- Inviting your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to host a series on equality in the workplace
- Planning social events such as a potluck to give your employees the opportunity to collaborate and mingle
Accommodate personal responsibilities
Even in 2020, the reality is that women still tend to have more responsibilities outside of the workplace than men. To alleviate the stress that comes with these additional responsibilities, I urge you to create a work environment that feels supportive. This means understanding the importance of work/life balance, setting reasonable expectations on workloads and deadlines, and distributing tasks evenly among employees—or redistributing them if you notice individuals working incredibly early or late to complete their projects.
You may find it helpful to support your employees by offering:
- Work-from-home options and flexible hours
- On-site childcare opportunities
- Equal pay for equal work policies
Invite a level of openness
To ensure your organization is productive, you need to remind your employees of the importance of maintaining their well-being. Having happy employees decreases absenteeism, and has been shown to boost profitability, reputation and retention. Allowing your employees—particularly women—to feel comfortable addressing any issues they are experiencing will help support them in both their personal and professional lives.
I encourage you to always remind your employees of the many options available to them (including confidential counselling) through their EAP. For more information about work/life balance and related services for your organization, contact your EAP provider today.