What Makes Women Feel Included At Work

The theme for IWD 2024 is inspire inclusion. But what does that mean and what makes women feel included?

According the official International Women’s Day website we inspire inclusion,

When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

Despite the widespread attention given to promoting workplace inclusivity, the reality on the grounds shows there is still much to be done

According to research conducted by Bain and Company, only a quarter of the women reported to have felt fully included in their workplace.  This statistic reflects the ongoing barriers that women encounter and underscores the need for more concerted efforts to address these issues.


Moreover, the prevalence of microaggressions further compounds the challenges faced by women in professional settings and serve as constant reminders of the persisting gender biases and stereotypes that permeate workplaces worldwide.

Advocating for inclusivity is not enough; tangible actions must be taken to dismantle the barriers that hinder women’s full participation and representation. This International Women’s Day serves as an opportunity to foster a truly inclusive environment where women feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Inclusion isn’t just a concept; it’s a lived experience, characterised by moments when women are treated as equals, their voices heard and valued, and their contributions welcomed and celebrated. It’s about creating an environment where authenticity is embraced, flaws are acknowledged alongside strengths, and individuals can thrive without fear of judgment or reproach.

Feeling included means more than just being present; it’s about being an integral part of the conversation, where networking opportunities extend beyond gender barriers and success is measured by effort, integrity, and results. It’s about recognising the invisible load that women often carry, acknowledging the intersectionality of their identities, and providing support without adding guilt to the equation.

True inclusion is manifested when employers and colleagues have your back, when teamwork is prioritised, and when every individual’s contribution is recognised and celebrated. It’s about creating a culture where trying new things is encouraged, where ideas are credited to their originators, and where decisions are made collaboratively rather than imposed.

Moreover, inclusion entails understanding and accommodating the unique challenges women face, whether it’s the impact of menstruation on performance and productivity at certain times of the month or the balancing act of being a parent and a professional. It’s about seeing women not as costs to be managed but as assets to be invested in, and fostering allyship among male coworkers and leaders to champion gender equality and inclusivity.

Inclusion for everyone – It’s crucial to acknowledge that the experience of feeling excluded is not limited to one gender. According to a report by HR Magazine, over half of UK employees have experienced exclusion in the workplace, highlighting the pervasive nature of this issue across all demographics. Inclusive practices benefit everyone, fostering a sense of belonging and productivity among employees of all backgrounds.

Managers play a vital role in shaping the employee experience and cultivating a culture of inclusion. They are the linchpins in fostering connection and leading teams effectively. Managers need the necessary soft skills to empathise with their team members, communicate inclusively, and address any instances of exclusion proactively. By empowering managers with these skills, organisations can create environments where every employee feels valued, respected, and included in the workplace community.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and reflect on the theme of inspiring inclusion, let us remember that true progress lies in translating these ideals into tangible actions and institutional changes. By creating environments where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered, we pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future for all.