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The Research: Key Barriers in Retaining Women

  • Sexism, harassment and discrimination
  • Isolating and unsafe work environments
  • Scheduling conflict--some shifts can be prohibitive to women who take care of family members or who are mainly or solely responsible for children and household duties
  • Parameters of a successful worker are not always objective or universally achievable. Stereotypes of ‘great workers’ often include working overtime, and/or long hours—something not possible for individuals who are single parents, or perform extensive work at home. 
  • Lack of advocacy/support.

Strategies for Retaining Women

01/ Use a Welcome Package

Why? You’ve spent time and resources on the recruitment stage, you want to be sure the individual you have chosen knows your company cares, and that they are aware of your relevant policies on workplace equality.

How? Use a welcome package with an outline of your policies, local support resources for physical and mental health, nearby childcare options, and other company info such as benefits and workplace ‘perks’.


02 / Develop and Use Standardized Orientations

Why? Standard orientations ensure all coworkers are on the same page, and receive the same information about the company and work. 

How?  Ensure the orientation process is standardized and prepares all new-hires in a uniform manner; include a formal introduction to coworkers.   


03 / Increase Work Flexibility

Why? Flexible work schedules are family-friendly, and family-friendly workplaces benefit everyone. Their purpose is to accommodate staff, especially women, who are caregivers, single parents, etc., without sacrificing productivity. 

How? Where possible, increase flexibility by offering part-time employment, shift schedule options, changeable start/end times to accommodate family needs (childcare drop-off/pick-up times), and paid sick leave.


04 / Develop Clear and Reasonable Maternity and Parental Leave Policies

Why? It’s the law to have a maternity leave policy. By making that policy clear, generous and accessible you can attract family-minded and loyal recruits. 

How? As an employer, you are required to post at least one copy of the most recent Employment Standards Act poster in an eye-catching, high-traffic area in the workplace. Take a look at a basic maternity leave policy here, and be sure you meet the legal requirements of the Employment Standards Act.. 


05 / Assess and Develop Workplace Culture

Why?  By collecting anonymous data from your employees, your organization can address any issues that take place at work.

How?  Assess your workplace culture as an employer and have employees do the same.


06 / Address Harassment

Why? It’s the law.  The Government of Ontario has mandated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS section 32.0.1 9b and 9c) that employers must prepare and review a policy on workplace harassment.

90% of Workplace Harassment Is Never Officially Reported. 

How?    Adapt an existing respectful workplace policy, harassment policy, or Ontario Health and Safety program.  Create procedures for employees to report incidents,  or complaints. Create procedures for management to investigate and mediate incidents or complaints, and train management to mediate these issues.  

07 / Publicize Your Success

Why? Diverse workplaces attract diverse talent!

How? If you have a website, include profiles and success stories of women in your workplace.