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9 goals for 2017 that will improve gender equality at your company

(BUSINESS NEWS) Make gender equality your New Year’s Resolution for the workplace – it’s not as insurmountable as you may think.

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Making progress towards equality

This year has been no small feat for women: America nominated the first female Presidential Candidate for the 2016 election, the Fortune 500 featured 21 female CEOs, and NASA’s Mars team has the first equal gender representation in history. As a woman I must say, I am proud.

However, these feats can make it easy to forget about gender inequalities that still exist in the work place today, such as imbalanced maternity leave policies, pay discrepancies, and promotional inequalities.

Solving these issues is imperative to achieve gender equality, but means companies must first recognize their specific problems as actual problems.

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Consider these your 2017 goals

Fairygodboss conducted a report detailing issues women have in the workplace based on anonymous data from thousands of women and third-party research. We detail their key findings below. If you’re a business owner, take notes. If you are employed, send this link to someone in management.

Clearly outline benefits, culture, and policies
Achieving gender equality in the workplace starts at the beginning of the job process — the application. Female job-seekers report that employer’s description of their culture, practices, and benefits are often ambiguous, causing them to move on and apply to more clearly defined job opportunities.

It is therefore important for businesses to include concise expectations and descriptions in their job outline, as they are understandable deciding factors for anyone applying for a job, women especially.

Enforce fair pay
Although businesses have made significant strides to close the pay gap between men and women, it’s no secret compensation inequality still remains an issue.

There are several ways for businesses to correct this issue though. Conducting a full pay audit can shine light on any disparities. If a business can’t afford a pay audit, they should at least ensure and encourage consistent pay across the same job titles.

Diversity gender in management
Diversifying management along with other decision making positions can increase women’s job satisfaction. If your team is lacking in diversity, consider investing in some changes to better reflect your company culture and priorities.

Ensure women are promoted just as much men
Along with pay inequality, promotional discrepancies between men and women in the workplace exist. Women don’t typically move up the hierarchical ladder as fast or equally as men. To improve business practices, companies should reevaluate their promotion and succession plans to ensure everyone has access to the same advancement opportunities.

Improve maternity and parental leave procedures
Women with young children often leave the workforce to raise their children full-time. Reentering the workplace after such absence can be difficult. Businesses should include policies that allow ample time away after childbirth. Displaying such commitment to something as natural and necessary exemplifies that a business cares about supporting women and families.

Maintain flexibility and work-life balance
Women have reported being unhappy with official policies as they relate to work-life balance and flexibility. This doesn’t mean companies should give everyone three-day weekends, but they should utilize and outline a well thought-out flexibility plan that leaves their employees satisfied, while also attracting qualified talent.

Create mentorship and sponsorship opportunities
Access to senior leadership is an issue I’ve personally experienced along with other women across the country. We may see senior executives in the break room or in passing, but accessing them for career advice or opportunities seems almost impossible.

To alleviate such alienation from senior staff, businesses should consider enforcing formal programs to encourage mentorship, sponsorship, and an overall support system regardless of gender.

Demand the same fairness from other business relationships
It is illogical for a company who supports gender equality to do business with other companies and vendors who do not. Demanding the same respect and diversity from other business relationships will not only help to achieve gender equality, but also demonstrate to women employees and potential candidates both male and female how serious equality is, and how unwavering the company’s morals are.

Include men in the conversation
Gender equality in the workplace symbolizes unity and harmony which is unobtainable without the input and help of our male counterparts. While many men support gender diversity, they are understandably unaware of the biases and issues women face daily.

Honest conversations, brainstorming, and interaction between female and male peers will help businesses on their journey of gender fairness.

You can view the full report here.

#GenderEquality

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Tech News

Making Slack actionable makes you productive

(TECHNOLOGY) Slack is an amazing productivity tool, but of course can add more to your plate – this feature puts you back on track.

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You know when you’re using Slack and you’re having a conversation with your teammate about whether or not you should grab lunch or go to Soul Cycle, but before you can answer, your editor Slacks you about deadlines and your design partner messages you proofs and suddenly you snap back to reality and remember that you’ve been working on a blog post for an hour and your concentration is completely shattered? You know, the exact moment when your productivity is officially derailed?

Well, Slack now offers Actions to help make sure that doesn’t happen. Your day may get busy, but at least nothing will slip through the cracks, work-wise.

Integrated with project management tools like Asana, Zendesk, and Jira, Actions allows users to create and comment on tasks, tickets or issues within conversations. That means no clicking through tabs or apps until you can no longer remember why you started clicking in the first place. More importantly, Actions keeps track of the work you need to do and when you need to do it.

So, how do Actions work?

1. Need to create a deadline or set up an appointment? Anything you see in Slack that needs a follow-up can be turned into an action when you click the ••• icon and choose an “action.”

2. When you’ve completed an action, a message appears in your Slack channel and lets your team know you’ve flagged it for follow-up.

3. Whichever app you’ve integrated with will alert Slack at which point you and your team can determine the next steps.

Bottom-line, Actions help keep your workflow moving. While it may not stop the onslaught of Slack messages from breaking your concentration, at least you’ll know what you should to be concentrating on.

If you’re curious to know more about Actions, the company has ample info on their API pages for your perusal.

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Tech News

Freezetab streamlines how you save tabs in Chrome

(TECH NEWS) Freezetab is the newest chrome extension that allows you to organize saved tabs in a myriad of ways.

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Internet made easier

With the browser becoming more and more of a workspace than merely an application, the built in bookmarks tool may leave you a bit hungry for more.

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Chrome users who need better tools to organize and manage bookmarks may find the power they need in Freezetab.

Bookmark’s cooler, hotter younger brother

Freezetab seeks to answer the questions of “what if I could organize my bookmarks by website” or “I only want to save all but two of these tabs on zen office designs.” It seeks to give you more options beyond the “one or all” choices in chrome. Here is the lowdown:

  • The calendar feature remembers WHEN you saved a tab – so if you can’t remember the title you can just go back to the day.
  • Chrome either lets you save one or all tabs. Freezetab expands those options to include: all, current, everything but current, right of, left of, or pick and choose.
  • If you are sharing a collection of tabs with a workgroup or a partner, it exports as a nice textbox that is easy to share in integrated messaging, IM, or email. Or even social media!
  • Sorting is robust, and there is a solid search feature that searches as you type.
  • That quick save feature saves all the tabs and closes them – and you can adjust that quick save feature to meet your needs.
  • There is a handy little star feature to note important bookmarks (i.e. recipes and excel techniques).
  • Enhances your close tab capability to close everything to the left and specific tabs – this great if you work in chrome and have 75 tabs open that have one letter names.
  • It is easier to sort tabs after you save them – you can search for them and then sort into folders you create rather manually organizing them into folders.
  • As a bonus: for those who don’t want to have to sort bookmarks – unlike Chrome which requires you to pick a folder or risk turning your bookmarks to an unorganized mess, the extension automatically organizes it for you.

Freezetab findings

After spending a few moments with Freezetab, it does fit in nicely with a workflow. Solidly reviewed, the developer did solve an issue with “pinned” tabs in the 1.2 update. – so it doesn’t remove or add them. The features are nice and easy to use, and it doesn’t require more than five minutes of playing around.

One complaint – if you choose to the right or left of the current tab to close, it did close the active tab as well – which was a little funky. But once you get comfortable with the nuances, it’s easy to use.
The interface is function over form, but you won’t have any problem using or customizing this extension. Now Bookmark smart y’all!

#FreezeTab

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Tech News

We’ve all seen job listings for UX writers, but what exactly is UX writing?

(TECH NEWS) We seeing UX writer titles pop up and while UX writing is not technically new, there are new availabilities popping up.

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The work of a UX writer is something you come across everyday. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints UX writers work on are interface copy, emails and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find a UX writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must have. Excellent communication skills is a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post.

But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater UX design team. In larger companies some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User centered design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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