Women’s Workplace: Fostering Psychological Safety

5 minutes

“Can I ask my team members for help?”.

“If I make a mistake, will it be held against me?”. 

“Are my unique skills and talents valued at this company?”. 

This form of self-doubt is frequently experienced by working women across the world. Establishing psychological safety for women is important to drive diversity, inclusivity, and the overall success of the organisation. This step attracts distinctiveness in talent and creates an environment of collaboration and mutual respect among colleagues.

To implement psychological safety for women in workplaces, here are steps that can be followed: 

Understanding Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the foundation of a healthy and thriving work culture. It includes creating an environment where employees, especially women, feel safe to voice their opinions without the fear of being judged. When employees feel that their workplace is secure and ensures well-being, they are more likely to communicate openly, collaborate and contribute towards the organisation’s goal. 

Research by Google’s Project Aristotle discovered psychological safety as one of the main reasons for a high-performing team. It highlighted that teams with higher levels of psychological safety had improved decision-making, knowledge-sharing, and problem-solving skills compared to other companies. By implementing strategies to ensure a safe workplace where team members feel respected, organisations can attain higher levels of success and pave the way for innovation.

Create awareness and sensitivity

Creating awareness and sensitivity is crucial to mitigating challenges, especially those faced by women. The primary motive of psychological safety is safeguarding women against issues such as gender bias, discrimination, and microaggression. By engaging in open conversations and education, employees can create a safe and candid space where all the issues faced will be addressed. A study conducted by KMPG found that around 68% of women employees felt the need to prove themselves more than their male counterparts to excel in work. 57% of women also reported experiencing microaggressions at the workplace compared to 37% of men.

Organisations can foster empathy and understanding by sensitising the workforce to challenges faced by women. This dynamic approach helps create a more inclusive environment. Also, it lays the foundation for debunking stereotypes and unwanted biases that hinder the development of individuals professionally and personally.

Implementing a culture of open conversations

Open communication is paramount for employees, especially women, as they feel respected in such workplaces. Regular team meetings, feedback sessions, and discussions where women feel free to express their thoughts without the fear of judgment are crucial. Leaders should actively listen and ensure that their opinions are heard. 

Promoting transparency and accountability in conversations helps build trust among team members and creates a sense of belonging. Constructive feedback and open dialogues regarding any issues that come their way should be addressed without fail. The importance of fostering a safe workplace where women feel safe enough to share their grievances should be emphasised which results in the overall success of the organisation.

Provide training for unconscious bias

Deeply ingrained attitudes and stereotypes can affect perceptions and actions without awareness. According to a survey from Delloite, 68% of employees reported witnessing or experiencing bias at their workplace, which harmed their productivity. By introducing training and providing awareness about what bias looks like in a workplace, employees can identify subtle biases and act upon them. Emphasising the importance of open conversations to address the same can also reduce the bias that emerges in casual conversations.

With improved awareness and promotion of self-introspection, employees can learn to recognize bias and challenge it to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone feels respected. Including fun games and activities that break the ice between employees can eradicate bias. Employees will gradually be equipped to question unconscious bias and cultivate an environment of fairness and equality that fosters innovation. 

Empowering women in leadership positions

Empowering women through leadership positions is crucial for cultivating a workplace culture where all individuals can thrive. According to Forbes, organisations with greater gender diversity on their leadership panel outperform those without the same by a significant margin and are more profitable. Leadership positions help women leaders showcase their management skills, leadership potential, and expertise. Promoting a culture of women leaders and valuing their input helps foster a generation of young women to step into leadership roles without fearing gender bias and stereotypes.

Highly ambitious women often tend to change their mannerisms, communication styles, and appearance to blend in with the dominant culture and avoid negative reactions from their male counterparts. This behaviour is called ‘code-switching” and can be a response to microaggressions and a lack of psychological safety in companies. These findings highlight the much-needed practice to foster a psychologically safe workplace for everyone, especially women employees. This can foster an inclusive and psychologically safer work environment that paves the way for many more women leaders and innovations!

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