How to Engage & Retain More Women - Top 5 Things You Can Do!

5 min read | Kelly Primus


Today, we continue our 7-part series “Gender + Diversity Playbook: Setting and Achieving Your Goals for 2021 and Beyond.” In Part 1, we covered 2020’s misses & 2030 goals, and in Part 2 Leading Women’s CEO shared the Top 5 things that CEOs can do to close its gender + diversity leadership gap. 

Next up, we’ll break down those Top 5 actions—addressing each action individually—to help organizations get the results they want, to achieve gender balance in the organization.


How to Engage & Retain More Women

Executive commitment to, and sponsorship of, women’s advancement—advocating for the business case: Simply put, leaders need to demonstrate their commitment by mentoring/sponsoring women in order to ENGAGE & RETAIN them. Make sure your leadership puts them into the mix for promotions and make sure they’re part of their own succession plans.


  1. Flexible Work Arrangements

    The traditional 9 to 5 work day is all but obsolete. Today’s world requires the flexibility of working virtually, job sharing, flex hours, etc.—without fear of penalty to women. Communicate achievable, and realistic goals & expectations, and allow your employee to get the job done in a way that works best for their individual circumstance to deliver the results you want.
  2. Wage/Salary Equity Audits

    Take a look at your current salary structure to ensure women are paid the same as men in your organization. Implement regular salary audits to close the gender pay gap and to provide a more balanced scale. Celebrate that you are committed to pay equity and the end result will be your talent pipeline filled with high potential women.
  3. Maternity Leave/Parental Leave/Family Friendly Practices/Work-Life Initiatives

    Much like flexible work arrangements, having children, aging parents, and other lifestyle obligations requires flexibility throughout one’s career. Too many women are kept out of conversations for advancement due to the mis-perception that their career isn’t a priority. Life happens, and every organization needs to have the flexibility to deal with it in order to encourage women managers to remain engaged. Try not to focus on hours in the office, which can sometimes be perceived negatively. Instead, focus on the actual accomplishments vs. time spent at a desk. The results will speak for themselves.
  4. Competence-based performance management systems

    You may not realize it, but your performance management system may have hidden gender bias that disadvantages women. Too often during annual reviews, women suffer from the methodology around how managers perceive them based on behaviors (i.e. a woman who is assertive may be perceived as difficult vs. a man who may be seen as a leader)— instead of reviewing them on their actual performance. When you use a Competency-based model that focuses on measurable competencies vs. behaviors & personality, you will eliminate potential bias.
  5. Minimize culture of self-promotion, enhance culture of merit/performance

    Evaluate your company culture to determine whether you have a system in place that inherently rewards those who speak up. More likely than not, you’ll see that men have been encouraged to self-promote but women have not—they’ll keep working hard and let their performance speak for itself. Leaders have to stop looking at only those who are self-promoting to identify high potential talent in their organization. Don’t assume that just because someone didn’t ask for a raise, promotion, or more responsibilities, they don’t want it. If you enhance the idea of who has the skill-set and ability to be promoted, and not only the people who have their hands up, you’ll retain more women who will contribute greatly to your organization.

If you’re in need of an expert partner to help you engage & retain women leaders, we can help you level the playing field.  #WeCanHelp.


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Gender + Diversity Playbook:
Setting and Achieving Your Goals for 2021 and Beyond

Part 1: 2020’s Miss is Now a “New” 2030 Promise – But Will Orgs Break This Promise Too?

Part 2: From One CEO to Another—It’s Time to Get Focused

Part 3: How to Engage & Retain More Women - Top 5 Things You Can Do!

Part 4: How To Change Your Company’s Culture To Be More Inclusive

Part 5: Make Your Company Policies Inclusive by Looking at these 3 HR Tools

Part 6: These 5 Tips Will Help You Recruit More Women/Diverse Candidates

Part 7: 10 Strategies for 2021 to Help Engage & Retain Women