5 pro-women measures that actually make a difference in the workplace

Finding success in your job shouldn’t be the result of a genetic lottery, but for millions of women worldwide this is the sad reality.

How do employers make actual change in the workplace? For modern-day companies, strict alignment with corporate social responsibility (CSR) and equality initiatives has become a core aspect of ‘doing business’. Employees reap the benefits of an inclusive environment and employers create a proactive, healthy work culture.

But what of the companies that prioritise simply being seen to do the right thing? The ones who create an elaborate, even enticing smokescreen that hides the fact that very little is actually being done for women in the workplace?

If you manage to peek behind the veil, what are some of the indicators that a company is truly committed to the support of women at work?

Menstrual health

The topic of menstruation can be frustratingly juvenile, with adults treating it like a taboo topic of old, only to be discussed in hushed whispers. Despite the physical and emotional toil caused by menstruation and more serious menstrual conditions such as endometriosis, women are expected to simply ‘get on with it’. 

Periods are a part of life, yet companies are often slow or ill-equipped to introduce measures that would ensure menstruation does not adversely affect a woman’s professional success. 

Simple yet effective efforts such as introducing paid sick leave, flexible hours and paid time off for medical appointments would prevent significant loss of wages and working hours.

Fórsa is a useful resource in the destigmatisation of periods. The trade union group campaigns for improved menstruation conditions in the workplace, such as having darker, more comfortable clothing options and paid leave when symptoms are debilitating.

They also provide educational materials and templates for anyone planning to introduce a menstrual or menopause policy within their company.

Equally as important is the language around menstruation. When seeking workplace assistance in relation to menstrual health, the topic of conversation should be open and supportive, but jokes or distasteful language around the topic is inappropriate and management should always be cognisant of keeping it professional. 

Mandatory HR training

In that vein of keeping it professional, a good way to spot if a workplace has a clear policy in relation to gender equality, is the manner in which it approaches training around micro-aggressions. 

Micro-aggressions are subtly conveyed comments with a negative connotation and are disproportionately aimed at people in marginalised groups. Such as women, people of colour and those living with a disability.  

Statements such as “you will get that position because they are looking to fill a quota”, undermine the individuality of women and de-legitimise the work put in to succeed.

Women looking to be a part of a tuned-in company culture should enquire about the quality of HR training, what it addresses and how it is enforced in the working environment. 

PwC is a company that works hard to create an atmosphere of equality and understanding. The business actively supports organisations that champion people of colour, gives employees one week off a year to carry out volunteer work and offers ‘blindspot’ training.

It is 2024 and “it was only a joke” or “she is being overly-sensitive,” just isn’t good enough anymore. 

Positions of power

These days, companies are very quick to talk about their diverse hires, proudly revealing the percentage of their staff that are women. But what often happens is they don’t provide overall figures in relation to upper management. 

They might actually have a relatively even male-to-female ratio of lower level staff, but what you may find is that women tend to hit a glass ceiling and are vastly under-represented in senior positions. 

Companies that are genuinely invested in the promotion of female employees will be the ones incorporating women-led mentorship and leadership programmes into the work culture. 

Ideally, there will already be an established group of professionals to whom new hires can go for guidance and support, but also advice on how they too might progress through the company. 

Software company Adobe offers female employees the chance to join the Women at Adobe employee network. This is a global networking opportunity where women can share ideas, engage with guest speakers, meet industry leaders and build a strong sense of community.

Women need to be in the room where the conversations are happening, but also so they can keep the door open for the next woman. 


A weak argument to explain away the gender pay gap has always been the amount of time women take off work when pregnant. Often women return to work to find out that they have missed important upskilling and promotion opportunities as well as reviews around performance and salary. 

In some cases women have to reconsider the return to work or the number of hours they can accept, as health concerns or childcare takes precedence. 

Interestingly, if companies were to grant men a longer paternity leave, it would enable women to return to work sooner and for families to equally balance childcare responsibilities. This would also somewhat alleviate the financial burden. 

Vodafone’s family-forward policy offers new mothers increased maternity leave, as well as leave for primary caregivers, surrogate parents and those undertaking fertility treatments.


As natural as menstruation is, so too is menopause. It comes with its own challenges, such as increased body temperature, changes in mood and trouble sleeping or concentrating. 

As retirement age increases, more and more women in the workplace will experience menopause while in full employment. 

To better meet the requirements of women going through the change of life, employers need to facilitate an informed conversion that leads to action. 

In response to the growing need for at work support, the HSE introduced a new menopause policy for its own employees. The scheme includes a training module, information on accessing resources and guidance for managers regarding how best to approach the topic with employees.

Small measures, such as flexible working hours, regulating in-office temperatures and relaxed uniform requirements, indicate a company is considerate of employees and working towards real inclusion.

It shouldn’t be stigmatising to be a woman, in regular day-to-day life or at work, so it’s vital that women take a good look at the work culture they want to be a part of and make sure it actually works for them. 

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

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