Company culture /Walk the walk: How businesses can better support female workers

Walk the walk: How businesses can better support female workers

We recently ran a poll on LinkedIn, asking female creatives what they believed were the biggest issues facing women working in the creative industry. While we know that there are a lot of issues that impact female creatives, we chose the issues that we hear about regularly from female candidates as our poll options.

There were 151 votes on our poll (if you voted, thanks so much!) and the breakdown of what people thought were the most important issues faced by female creatives were:

  • Lack of flexibility and understanding for those who are the primary parent – 30%
  • Expiry date on career – once you hit a certain age, your career slows down and you get fewer opportunities – 23%
  • Lack of confidence or feelings of imposter syndrome – 40%
  • Other – 7%

Some of the issues listed by those who voted for “other” included:

  • Businesses not offering part time roles, making it hard for mothers to move up the career ladder
  • The gender bias
  • The authority gap
  • The boys club mentality and lack of real support for female career progression and,
  • Discrimination against women with disabilities

All very real and important issues that women face while at work.

Businesses can play a leading role in empowering and uplifting women, providing the support they need to balance family and work and giving them equitable opportunities to progress their career. However, to actually make a real and positive impact, businesses can’t just talk the talk. They need to walk the walk.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend asking your female staff what they feel needs to be addressed. If there’s no common consensus, here are some ideas for the big issues we hear about regularly from women in the creative industry.


Lack of flexibility and understanding for women who are the primary parent

What’s the issue?

Working mums can feel like there’s a lack of flexibility and understanding to enable them to balance both a career and family. Mums are some of the most organised and efficient people out there and can multitask like pros. Some workplaces don’t understand that mums are still able to work while having a sick kid with them at home, or can make their deadlines despite having to do the school pick up.


What businesses can do

If you’re the manager of a parent, be understanding that things might just pop up and trust them to do their job despite these bumps and hiccups. If you can, and haven’t already, consider implementing a flexible working policy so they’re able to work from home when needed or can do some of their work outside work hours. If you’re worried about the work getting done, consider implementing KPIs, targets or goals for your entire team (don’t single the parent out) and track workload and completion that way.


Expiry date on their career

What’s the issue?

We’ve heard from some female creatives that they feel like once they hit a certain age, their career in the creative industry slows down or ends. They find they get far less opportunities compared to when they were younger, aren’t considered for very senior roles and that employers aren’t interested in their skills, experience and what they have to offer.


What businesses can do

The authority gap plays a role here – and if you’re not familiar with it, it’s the gap that measures how much the world takes women less seriously than men. This generally leads to less women in senior and leadership roles, which is what they would expect to be moving into once they hit a certain stage in their career.

When you’re recruiting for those top senior positions, ask your recruiter or your HR team to present the candidates to you without names, photos or anything that’ll bias you towards one candidate or another. In addition, ask them to give you an even split of male and female candidates (when possible) and ensure that the job ad encourages women to apply for the role, even if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements.

If you want to learn more about the authority gap, check out these two articles:


Lack of confidence or feelings of imposter syndrome

What’s the issue?

From a young age, girls are often taught to placate people and not rock the boat. When working professionally, this can result in feelings of imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence and/or not standing up for themselves when people try to discredit them or take their ideas and pass them off as their own.


What businesses can do

This was the issue that had the most votes in our poll, so obviously female creatives see it as important and it needs to be addressed.

Pay attention to how people interact in meetings. If you find that female employees are being constantly interrupted or talked over, stop the interrupter to allow your female employees to articulate their thoughts without interruptions. If there are female employees who aren’t contributing meeting after meeting, invite them to speak and share their thoughts (give them a heads up before the meeting if they’re shy or an introvert, don’t put them on the spot). Encourage them and tell them you value their thoughts and opinions and what they think is just as important as what others have to say.

Make sure you’re actively listening in meetings when women are talking. Put away your phone, hide any distractions and actually listen to and acknowledge what they have to say, just as you would if a man was speaking. Repeating back what they’ve said in your own words is a great way to show you understand what has been said.

Prioritise training for soft skills. We love the app Learna – it has quick, 5-10 minute training sessions for things like boosting confidence, saying what you mean, silencing your inner critic, communicating for cut through and a lot more. These lessons, while small, have a great impact on confidence and building self-belief. Plus the whole team can benefit from this type of training, not just women.


These are just a few of the issues that women face while working in the creative industry and while we don’t have all of the answers, we hope this has given you an idea of how you can better support the women in your workplace. Most importantly, listen to what they have to say and take action when they say something isn’t right.


Some other great resources to check out: