I’m excited to have been asked to support this year’s WiPM conference which is being in September where I will be chairing the Women in Leadership Panel session and also the lunch time topic table on ‘Leadership coaching taster’. I will be joined by some of the sectors leading figures and can’t wait for the lively conversation that will ensue.
Inclusivity is critical for the success of any project or programme as it enables the project team to leverage a diverse range of perspectives and tap into a broader pool of talent to solve complex problems. An inclusive approach towards project management involves eliminating barriers, valuing diversity, and creating an environment in which everyone feels they like belong.
Women in project management often face challenges such as systemic biases based on gender, race, as well as work-life balance and more. Below I explore some strategies on how to attract women into project management and bolster their success.
Creating the right team culture
To attract women into project management, you need to create a welcoming environment by encouraging diversity and offering flexibility around work hours and location. Research is showing that women are carrying the brunt of the home/work caregiving with burnout at an all-time high. it’s important to factor in the struggles women face in balancing work and home life so they stay engaged.
Emphasize Leadership Skills
Identifying the potential in the women who could be leaders and providing the necessary training is crucial for attracting women into project management. Women need to be given equal opportunities to hone their skills and take on leadership roles and It's important to recognise and promote the potential talent women bring to the table. Women need to be championed so they can not only excel in middle management, but also in the c-suites!
Promote Work-Life Balance
Promote work-life balance by providing adequate maternity and paternity leave, as well as childcare benefits. Offering a flexible work schedule as standard can also be a great incentive to attract women into project management.
Encourage Mentorship Programs
Pairing women project managers with successful professionals in their field can go a long way in motivating them to thrive in their careers. Providing networking opportunities and a support structure will boost their confidence and assist with personal and career development. By promoting a culture that values mentorship, seasoned staff can offer guidance, insights and other knowledge transfer opportunities that cannot be garnered through other channels.
Ensure Gender-Neutral Hiring Practices
To attract more women to project management, it's important to ensure gender-neutral hiring practices. This means eliminating unconscious bias and creating diverse interview panels. By removing gendered language from job ads and offering equal opportunities for growth, women are more likely to apply and succeed in project management positions. It's crucial that organisations recognise and address the unique challenges faced by women in the workplace.
Highlight Female Success Stories
Celebrating achievements and success as well as acknowledging and recognising the real hurdles that women face in the project management sector is crucial to inspiring recruits into the sector. Promoting relatable and representative role models can help break stereotypes, foster belonging and showcase a route into leadership roles. When women feel seen, really seen, that is when they truly belong.
Address Imposter Syndrome
Let’s face it, by now we can admit that there are times when we all feel like an imposter. Feeling this way is normal, but it can hold women back. It’s important to say out loud that these feelings are common and can be overcome. Talking about it with a mentor, colleague or shared community can be a vital outlet.
Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits
Ensuring pay equity and providing equal growth opportunities are fundamental to attracting and retaining female talent. After all, who doesn't want to be paid what they're worth and have the chance to move up? Plus, when women succeed, so does the company!
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