To round out a year that has seen many conversations around gender equality and women in leadership, Devex’s Executive Vice President Kate Warren and Counterpart International’s Executive Vice President Ann Hudock sat down to discuss the challenges facing women leaders and ways to support greater diversity in organizations.
“For many of us,  has felt like the year of the woman with the discussions around MeToo, sexual harassment, and the importance of gender equality really making the forefront of our conversations,” Warren said.
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Hudock shared insights from her own experience and offered advice to other women, men, and organizations on ways to better support women working in global development. From the biggest challenges facing women leaders to small steps men can take to promote gender equality in the workplace, here, we round up some of the key takeaways from the online event.
Balancing home and work life
One of the biggest challenges facing women working in development is “balancing work with what we call the ‘mental load’ and that set of domestic responsibilities,” Hudock said.
Whether it’s elderly parents or children, so much of the social expectation today still remains on women to take care of those things, Hudock said, adding that the higher women progress in leadership roles, the more difficult it becomes to balance home and work life.
However, being a parent can also shape important aspects of work life. Hudock explained that being a parent has informed her leadership style as she now has more empathy and patience.
“More important than the policies, is really training the managers in how to use those policies… rather than see them as a set of static measures that you take and check the box.”— Ann Hudock, executive vice president, Counterpart International
How organizations can encourage diversity
“It is so important to, first of all, remember that it is diversity across the board that we want to honor and see in our workplace … not prioritizing one group over another,” Hudock said.
Hudock noted that, while it is very important to have diversity and inclusivity policies in place, “more important than the policies, is really training the managers in how to use those policies… rather than see them as a set of static measures that you take and check the box,” she said.
For instance, mothers might be better off saving some parental leave for when the child is older, so managers should have those conversations with their staff and really consider how policies can best work for employees, Hudock explained.
When seeking mentorship, it’s important to find what works for you as an individual, Hudock said. Some people will find formal mentorship schemes too daunting. An alternative way is for women to find a person — whether man or woman — who really takes an interest in them and offering them something in return, such as energy, enthusiasm, or a fresh perspective. This builds “a symbiotic relationship and it’s then that a mentorship works so well,” she said.
Men’s role in achieving gender equality
There are many actions men can take to promote gender equality in the workplace. “There are small roles and there are big roles and everything in between,” Hudock said.
One small thing men can do, is not count on women to take notes in a group setting. “If you’re standing at the flipchart and you’re a man, put your hand up and take the pen and take the notes,” she said. It sends a signal to women that they are not always in support roles and it’s safer for them to take that space.
Be sure to watch the full recording of the event to find out even more valuable tips and insights on creating a fairer workplace and supporting more women into leadership roles.