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The Future of Women in Corporate America: How Business Culture Is Going to Change

March 9th, 2017 /

Support for women’s rights in the United States has been astounding this year. From the Women’s March in January to A Day Without A Woman—an event that happened earlier this week on International Women’s Day—this 50.8% of the US population is making quite the statement.

However, policy is not the only aspect of society that stands to change from these efforts. America’s corporate culture is rapidly shifting as women fight to break the glass ceiling and move beyond their “pink collar” jobs. Though not every employee is dedicated to the cause, this public attention is already creating major waves in today’s corporate world.

Women will be changing the world of business.

Image by Flickr user Terence Lim.

Women In Today’s Workforce

You’d think that nearly one hundred years after women gained the right to vote, we would have made excellent strides toward equal opportunity in the workplace. In actuality, we have not progressed quite as far as we hoped. Perhaps this is why the current push for women’s rights is happening at all.

The truth of the matter is that the gender pay gap still exists, with women making on average 80 cents for every dollar of equal work. While this is a significant improvement over past years, women are still hitting a major glass ceiling when it comes to upper-level management.

Only twenty women are currently sitting CEOs for Fortune 500 Companies in the United States (equating to only 4%). One study reported only modest improvements in the number of women on boards of directors of publicly-traded companies—even though it would be better business sense to have an equal proportion of each gender to match a company’s consumer base.

The problem lies with the recruitment and hiring process itself. Most management teams are made up of male employees, who tend to hire others like them. And once hired, women with equal qualifications find themselves passed over for promotions in favor of their male partners. This is a system in desperate need of change if companies are to benefit from the untapped resource that is the female workforce.

Women’s suffrage is a movement of the past—but women’s rights are still in our future.

Women’s suffrage is a movement of the past—but women’s rights are still in our future. Image by Flickr user Oregon State University.

How Companies Can Advocate For Gender Equality

Several companies are making public statements about their dedication toward furthering women’s rights in their organizations.Transparency and public initiative are great strategies to welcome human rights for all into the corporate fold. Is your company ready to make such a statement?

If not, here’s something you can do to help enact change. One study explored the role of mentors in moving women forward in business ranks, showing that women who worked closely within a company support system were more likely to reach upper management levels by mid-career. Mentors and role models assist women in completing high-level projects that are necessary for their advancement—something they might not aspire to on their own in our current corporate system.

Additionally, there is a severe lack of women of color in the upper levels of corporate culture across the nation. While women are advocating for their rights, research shows that only women of a particular race are making strides in the U.S. business world. Women of color who aspire to own businesses are few and far between due to a lack of examples in the field as well as a lack of capital—barriers to entry that are difficult to push past. This makes women like Michelle Obama incredibly impactful in inspiring a generation of minority women to believe they have the power to make a difference.

As women move forward into upper management, corporate culture stands to change.

As women move forward into upper management, corporate culture stands to change. Image by Flickr user Bold Content.

How Business Culture Will Change

The biggest obstacle to the progress of the women’s movement is, of course, our society’s fear of change. Corporate culture will adapt in small but widely-felt ways as women grow into their new positions. However, this growing process stands to benefit employees of all genders. Observing companies with a high percentage of women in management and those with women CEOs, here are some things you can expect to change:

  • Corporate Lingo: “One of the guys” will translate to “one of the team.” “Businessman” is replaced by “businessperson,” and “last man standing” will also become gender-neutral. Terms of management speak that are mutually offensive (i.e. “punch a puppy”) will soon fade from our vocabularies. I, for one, am not sad to see them go.
  • Parental Leave: Yes, we did say “parental.” Equitable leave for parents of any gender is common practice in Western Europe and is beginning to be discussed on the largest political stage of our nation. Companies will develop new policies that provide generous parental leave and innovate ways to keep their workflow uninterrupted.
  • Workplace Atmosphere: While some may consider the male-centered, misogynistic office culture to be obsolete, the sanctioned prevalence of crude humor and sexual harassment will cease to exist at all in the modern workplace. This will benefit all employees by building greater respect between every person in the company.
  • Higher Productivity: A more inclusive atmosphere is, by nature, a more welcome home for creativity, innovation, and productivity. Including more women in upper-level management gives a window of opportunity to the half of the workforce that currently feels limited by their gender. Companies have much to benefit from the lasting ambition of their female employees.
Corporate America will soon be welcoming many more women into its frequent flyer ranks.

Corporate America will soon be welcoming many more women into its frequent flyer ranks. Image by Flickr user X Y.

What This Means For Business Travelers

By extension, corporate travel culture will also have to adjust to the new ways of the world. Before long, business class will be proportionately full of female executives, sales reps, and project managers. The corporate travel industry will start catering more to the needs of these women—from pre-vetting hotels for increased safety to adjusting acceptable behavior standards at after-hours work events. The woman on a business trip will be able to feel as included and respected as her male counterparts.

The business travel world is growing steadily, especially as more and more women start filling the seats in business class. Now more than ever, I try to reduce the stress of travel in every way I can. First and foremost, I choose to let my JetLux Hotels personal reservationist book my hotel rooms for me. No matter who I’m traveling with, I know that the team at JetLux will provide me with the best hotel room available nationwide with little more than a phone call from me. Sign up for a membership today to start a whole new corporate travel experience, regardless of your gender.

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