Overcoming Barriers Facing Women in the Workplace

Director of Investor Relations Kristy Proos wants to make a difference in the culture for women at Whirlpool Corporation. “One of the biggest barriers facing all diverse groups is how to solve for inclusion and individuality,” she said.

To overcome those barriers facing women in the workplace, we must begin to ask ourselves the tough questions, explained Proos. “How do we help everyone reach their full potential as individuals? How do we stop perpetuating silos and evolve our thinking? How can we embrace our differences to drive a competitive advantage that attracts new talent to bring value and deliver our global strategic imperatives?”

Proos has been with Whirlpool for over nineteen years, serving in various roles including Corporate Accounting, Supply Chain, Global Product Organization and Investor Relations. In addition to her job responsibilities, Kristy currently serves as co-lead of Whirlpool’s oldest Employee Resource Group, Whirlpool Women’s Network (WWN). With over 750 members, the Women’s Network has continued to evolve, and most recently expanded its objectives to include a focus on promotion to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

Catalyst research shows that companies with a higher percentage of women in executive positions have a 34 percent higher total return to shareholders. “We want to help women overcome the barriers to success,” she said, “Whether that’s training on how to ‘speak-up’, more access to senior leaders, or a more formal sponsorship program — we want to make a difference.”

In collaboration with business partners, some key accomplishments for the Women’s Network include the Parental Leave Policy, which allows more paid time off for moms, dads, domestic partners and adoptive parents, and the Dinners to Go pilot program that provides healthy dinner options for working families. “The majority of women have a ‘second job’ of managing the household when they arrive home, and in order to better balance work and life more efficiently, we must update our policies and programs to support them,” said Proos.

Most recently, the Women’s Network developed the Whirlpool Challenge for Change in honor of Women’s History Month. “The Challenge for Change is an important step in driving inclusion,” Proos said. “The #30days30ways activities are meant to evolve our thinking into a culture that supports individuality. Each day, all of us can take small actions. Added together, all of these small actions can aid in creating change to make Whirlpool Corporation one of the best places for women to work.”

However, she points out that the “glass ceiling” is still very relevant to women today. “The key to breaking down those barriers and achieving an inclusive environment is to help men and women understand what it means to be an ally, a mentor, or a sponsor for women,” said Proos. “Every person plays a role in shaping the workplace. Compassion must be embedded within our business infrastructure, where we all ‘speak up’ and continue to drive towards a more inclusive culture.”