Getting the most out of training for female employees

Empowering women in the workplace is an important goal for many companies in their increased efforts to create a more inclusive workplace and close the gender pay gap.

Not only that, but many business leaders have recognised that helping women progress individually and collectively – particularly in historically male-dominated industries like tech and IT – not only quashes those stereotypes but also leads to positive financial results. It was found recently via McKinsey, that gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to outperform companies that do not take gender inclusivity and diversity seriously.

female employee training

Therefore, empowering women in male-dominated industries serves companies with several benefits. One of the most effective ways to encourage this empowerment is through effective, guided training. So how can effective employee learning and development programmes help businesses? Also, how can companies execute and improve their training programmes to retain more female staff?


Creating an engaging and successful female employee training programme

Jobs are constantly evolving. In recent years, the pandemic accelerated the need for companies to adapt and embrace technology, which has only forced companies to be more accommodating with their employment and working models, and by the same token, employees are demanding more flexibility.

One thing that remains constant, however, is the need for consistent learning and training, which can help employees build and develop skills, whether it’s a case of securing new employment prospects or futureproofing their careers.

As with any business, the strategies that they use to train and upskill their employees directly affect how effective those training programmes are.


As is highlighted in this detailed McKinsey report, women face more adversity when it comes to securing promotions and working their way up to positions of leadership and greater responsibility. Companies can make their female employees feel included, supported and welcomed, while being cognizant of the conscious and unconscious biases that exist in their sector. Their female employees, much like their male peers, will exhibit stronger performance, job satisfaction, commitment, and motivation, when they are visibly supported by their employers.

These personal and professional benefits are largely dependent on effective training, learning and development programmes. When executed correctly, these programmes can actively empower and encourage women to take their careers forward and fulfil their potential. Failing to do this will largely result in higher employee turnover and, as we have seen recently, higher levels of job dissatisfaction and an unwillingness to progress. In turn, this will only perpetuate the impression that certain sectors are – and will always be – a boys’ club.

There are several training methods and strategies that companies can adopt to equip their female employees with essential skills and abilities that they can utilise to further their careers.


How to empower your female employees through training


Set appropriate expectations

Clearly communicating and agreeing on both your expectations/procedures and your employees’ expectations will ensure clarity from the outset. It will also allow your team members to ask any prudent questions and make sure that you are both on the same page. Poor and ineffective communication about expectations will limit their ability to perform at capacity and reap the full benefits of their training.


Provide different types of training


Every company operates differently, with employees generally working a mixture of different schedules and from various locations. This is why training has to be adaptable, accessible and, in many cases, interactive. Training modules that employees can take from any location will allow them to take advantage of this accessibility, which is useful if companies offer remote or hybrid working. It’s even better if this material can be accessed on demand, available as and when team members need them.

Video training is also increasingly important, as it can help employees ‌retain crucial information more readily, particularly if it’s related to learning highly intricate or technical fields like cloud infrastructure deployment.


Allow employees to shadow their colleagues

Entrusting employees to tackle tasks on their own is a great way to learn, but there is a fine line between doing that and ‘throwing them in the deep end’. This is where employee shadowing comes in handy, as experienced colleagues can demonstrate and exhibit how tasks can be carried out. This allows employees to retain information by applying learned skills in real time, without the risk of being reprimanded.


Offer one-to-one meetings

Regular meetings between employees and their supervisors are tremendously effective at addressing short-term obstacles and gaining clarity on their long-term vision and progress. It helps both parties to establish a mutually-beneficial relationship and rapport with one another, fostering feelings of trust and reassurance that the employees’ personal and professional goals are being taken seriously, with steps taken to help them achieve them.


Enrol Employees in Mentoring or Coaching Programmes

Employee mentorship or coaching programmes can be tremendously effective for their personal and professional development. Pairing an employee with a mentor will help them acclimate to the company culture (if they’re a new recruit), and also allow them to address any insecurities or difficulties they are facing, without fear of repercussions.

Mentors and coaches can help educate the employee throughout their time with the company and also act as a point of liaison between top-level management, which is handy if the reporting line is more complex.


Accompany training with financial incentives

Women generally face greater financial constraints than men, thus affecting their ability to fund out-of-hours training or part-time courses, much less commute to these programmes if they are face-to-face. Companies can demonstrate their commitment to employees’ development goals by offering financial incentives, whether it’s covering the costs of the training or commute (or both), or offering bonuses upon successful completion of said courses. If there is more financial reassurance, employees will be more active participants in such training.


Offer upskilling and reskilling

Upskilling or reskilling can allow your employees to become more ingrained in the company culture, understand broader company processes and allow them to do their jobs more effectively, not to mention apply for future internal vacancies with increased confidence.

If businesses show a willingness to invest in an employee’s upskilling or reskilling request, it will provide them with additional security and allow them to progress without fear of their current job role being affected.


Encourage employees to network

Referral groups and networking meetings are great ways for businesses to acquire new clients, suppliers or partners, as well as expand their professional contact lists. By encouraging your employees to network professionally, they can become more acquainted with more like-minded people who can potentially provide additional resources, knowledge and real-life experience that could prove useful in their professional and personal career development.


Allow flexible working and training models

Nowadays, balancing home life and parenting responsibilities with our careers has become more crucial. The emotional and physical burden of this balancing act can be particularly demanding on women, but companies can be tremendously supportive by encouraging greater flexibility with their working hours, and additional timescales for employees to complete their training.

Aligning your learning and development strategies with each employee’s working patterns and preferences will encourage a greater commitment to their training, whatever it might be.


Deliver top-level leadership training

Despite some progress being made, women are less likely to be promoted to positions of influence and responsibility. To overcome this issue, companies can offer bespoke leadership training to female employees, whether this is by commissioning an external professional or entrusting an incumbent female leader to deliver seminars or workshops to junior employees in the company.

Once positions and opportunities become available for internal promotion, more women will be inclined to submit an application.


There is undoubtedly work still to do as far as fostering more inclusive and diverse workplaces and closing the pay gap, but if you exhibit commitment and diligence towards levelling the playing field so women in your organisation feel valued, supported, included and empowered, you will be doing an excellent job.

You can empower your female employees to achieve great things for themselves and for your company if you invest in training and development and personalise it to work for everyone.