Advocacy: The Secret Ingredient For Achieving Equality | CBCC News

CBCC - Advocacy in the Workplace

Advocacy: The Secret Ingredient For Achieving Equality | CBCC News

Leaders are the ones who can advocate for gender equity, more inclusive work environments, and providing opportunities for women to develop their skills and advance their careers at the highest institutional levels.

And when it comes to women in leadership positions, decades of studies have shown that when more women are empowered to lead, everyone benefits. Women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, inspire organisational dedication, and improve fairness.

Clearly, when women support each other in the workplace, they create a culture of empowerment that benefits everyone.

Despite these benefits, in 2023, only 10.4% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. What can we do to begin changing this statistic and paving the way for more women to rise to leadership positions for a more equal business world?

It starts with advocacy.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is all about making a difference. It’s about speaking up and acting to change rules, decisions, and empower people. This can be aimed at anyone from local communities and key influential people to governments and large corporate conglomerates.

The International Women’s Development Agency explains advocacy as ‘a set of organised activities designed to influence the policies and actions of others to achieve change’. This can be anything from direct and public actions such as lobbying (talking to policymakers), protests, and hosting events, to more subtle actions like doing research, writing open letters, or training people to be activists.

Everyone uses advocacy in their own ways. In business, advocacy is about getting your voice heard to change rules and policies in your organisation or workplace in your favour.

CBCC - Advocacy in the Workplace

What Makes Women's Rights Advocacy Different?

Women’s rights advocacy is special because to really make a difference, we need to tackle the deep-rooted unfair power dynamics and structures that keep women and girls down. It’s not just about fighting for women’s rights; it’s about recognising that women face different kinds of discrimination based on other aspects like race, social class, sexuality, disability, age, and gender identity. Each woman’s experience is unique because of these factors.

When we talk about advocating for women’s rights, it is crucial to always keep the real needs and priorities of women at the centre of everything we do.  By making sure our methods are political and inclusive, and always checking that we’re not accidentally reinforcing those unfair power structures, we can increase the impact of our advocacy at every level.

In the business world, advocating for women’s rights is mostly about speaking up for women and cheering on their successes. Doing this builds a strong support network that helps women deal with and beat the special challenges they come across in their careers.

And in the business world, who better to speak up for and promote the achievements of women face at work than women who have experienced it themselves?

What Does Women's Rights Advocacy Look Like in the Workplace?

For advocacy that is highly focused and issue based, the top five issues that challenge women today are:

Pay Equity

Women often earn less than men for the same work – on average, about 82 cents for every dollar a man earns in a similar position. By pushing for reviews on your organisation’s pay practices, we can make necessary changes to ensure that women are not being paid less than their male counterparts.

Leadership Development

Leadership development for women is crucial to give them the tools and chances to lead and thus breaking the glass ceiling. When women lead, they bring new ideas and perspectives, making the workplace better for everyone. Suggesting to invest in development opportunities like coaching and training programs will therefore help women develop the skills and confidence they need to advance their careers.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Many women juggle different responsibilities on top of their careers, such as parenting or caregiving. Flexible work arrangements can help offer work-life balance and help reduce stress, making work more accessible and fair for all. Push to enact policies that allow women to balance their work and personal responsibilities, such as telework, local or non-local remote work, or flexible schedule policies.

Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are vital for women employees as they ensure fair treatment, equal opportunities, and a workplace where everyone’s differences are valued and contribute to a richer, more creative environment. Advocate to develop programs to improve diversity in hiring and promotion, and remove discriminatory practices in the workplace.

A Lack of Women-centred employee resource groups

Women-centred employee resource groups provide support, mentorship, and a strong community, empowering women to grow, lead, and drive change. By promoting and encouraging involvement in employee resource groups (ERGs) that support women in the workplace, women are presented with networking opportunities, professional development, and emotional support tailored for them.

CBCC - Advocacy in the Workplace

Taking Advocacy Four Steps Further

Amplify Women’s Voices and Ideas

Everyone at work should be heard, and ‘amplification’ ensures nobody feels ignored or quieted down. This is important because often, women get overlooked or not listened to when they share their ideas, diminishing their voice and their presence in the workplace.

Through amplification, organisations can help give credit and recognition to the right person. It can also show support and help people who may feel less confident to speak up more often, especially if they’re from a group that doesn’t always get heard.

By boosting someone else’s ideas without taking credit for it, it makes everyone feel like the workplace is safe and friendly, a place where they can speak up too.

Establish Mentorship AND Sponsorship Programs

There are a heap of studies that show that good mentoring programs lead to better career success for people and help companies with employee happiness, keeping staff, and sharing knowledge.

But less known is the power of sponsorship. Yes, it’s super important for women to look for mentors as they offer career advice, support, and knowledge, but sponsors use their influence to actively push for someone’s career growth. Sponsors will stand up for who they’re sponsoring even when they’re not around and advocate for them on a personal level.

Support women in joining women-led professional organisations.

According to a 2023 study, women can boost their leadership capabilities through joining women’s professional organisations.

Researchers found that being in these groups helped members get better at leading, connect with other women, learn from women leaders, and get support to take on leadership roles themselves. Because of this, the participants of the group started aiming higher in their careers, felt more confident about their leadership skills, and saw bigger possibilities for leading in their jobs

By setting aside some budget to create these groups and/or encouraging women to join external women-led professional organisations, companies can help their women employees benefit from each other and from other women leaders.

Focus on allyship

It’s not just women who can help increase female leadership. Men, especially those in high positions, can make a big difference.

Allies are people who use their own advantages and position to back up and fight for those from groups that haven’t had it easy. And in many businesses and organisations, the people in power are men.

In fact, a 2018 study showed that men who learn how to support women properly are way more likely to advocate for gender equality than those who don’t. They are less likely to see pushback from their opinions, and have more leverage to enact true change.

This applies to different intersections of advantage as well. For example, white women helping women of colour, people without disabilities supporting those with disabilities, or cisgender people standing up for LGBTQ+ people.

By realising the advantages we personally have and understanding our own biases, we can use what we’ve got to either step up, step back, or step in, and help those who’ve been overlooked for leadership roles.

“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.”

– Samantha Power

Since our establishment in 2016, the CBCC has been dedicated to advancing women’s interests through advocacy for equality and equity.

  • Our annual Women in Leadership event has aligned with International Women’s Day to celebrate the amazing achievements of women in Western Sydney, inviting local women leaders to share their experiences and advice on continuing to blaze a trail towards equality.
  • We have a Women’s Committee of dedicated local women leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators who volunteer to tackle issues facing women in business, and a policy task force of 9 women who volunteer to guide and inform the CBCC Board on how to better advocate for equality.
  • The CBCC Board of Directors has been gender-balanced since 2022.
  • We are proudly part of the Greater City Commission’s Women’s Safety Charter, which brings organisations together to create safer places for women, girls, and everyone across Greater Sydney.
  • The CBCC’s BRAVE Project aims to begin a systematic and fundamental attitude change for women’s rights and interests in Canterbury-Bankstown and beyond.

If you would like to be part of the change, join us as we work to create a truly equal community.

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Written by Collappor8
Collappor8 - Business Redesigned. We’re a one-stop-shop for businesses that need a strategy, and people to execute those strategies. Call us when you're ready to make real changes!

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