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Spain International Woman's Day

Demonstrators show a banner during an International Women's Day march in Pamplona, Spain, March 8.

We marked International Women’s Day on March 8, a day to celebrate achievement but also continue working toward gender balance.

In 2018, a record 248 women were appointed board directors at some of the most prominent U.S. companies, but they make up just 31 percent of total new board directors selected last year. Also, women are still earning 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men. The main cause for a gender gap in pay is that men are more likely to be promoted faster because they have fewer obstacles to overcome.

It’s essential for existing leaders to create a workplace that removes unconscious bias. Here are four best practices to instill an equal playing field.

Foster Open Communication: Research shows when women are exposed to female leaders, they are more likely to endorse other women who are well suited for leadership roles. The advice, mentorship and feedback that a female leader shares with those around her can have an impact on current and future workers.

Adjust Policies to Address Employee Needs: Women are five times more likely than men to take extended absences from work for child rearing and parenting. Consider allowing work from home or flex hours to help women better balance their lives as a mother and employee.

Flip the Script on HR Practices: To close the gap between women and men in senior roles, consider reviewing candidates blind.

When you remove factors such as a person’s name, you’ll be more objective when evaluating skill, knowledge and potential to succeed without biases of a candidate’s age, gender, race or education level.

Challenge Group Think: By adding disruptors to group think, your company will be challenged to think outside the box by inviting a new perspective to the conversation.

Stephen Fournier

Syracuse

Stephen Fournier is KeyBank Central New York Market president.

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