Disrupt Gender Bias in the Workplace

At the current rate of progress, it will take another 108 years to reach gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report. If we want to see more gender equality in our lifetime and create more empowering workplaces for our children and grandchildren, we all have an important role to play.

Toxic work cultures and microaggressions continue to plague the workplace, making it hard for some employees to bring their full selves to work while achieving their desired career progression. So, what can we do to combat the problem? Here are 5 actionable strategies:

1. Educate Yourself & Your Colleagues

If your colleagues aren’t aware there’s a gender bias issue, they won’t make changes. Make sure your team knows what gender bias looks like (the outright and the subtle) and how to avoid it in the workplace. Showcasing clear examples and going through exercises can help illustrate the point.

Below are some steps to overcoming gender bias that addresses the wider system rather than expecting individual women to solve this problem:

  • Awareness & Action. Put on ‘Bias filter glasses’ and when you notice a colleague’s comment or actions being taken at work that deepens bias, take action. Here are some practical case scenarios with tips on how to respond.
  • Systemic change. The only way we will create meaningful change is to become more acutely aware of policies and champion changes. For example, ensuring there is a balance of genders when shortlisting candidates for interviews or creating panel interviews to reduce bias in the hiring process.

With more education, we can be better prepared to identify bias when we see it or hear it.

2. Evaluate and Champion for Equal Pay

We’ve all heard about the gender pay gap. This shows that women are paid less than men based on the same amount of work. In 2020, women still make 81 cents to every dollar a man makes. This might be the case in your company, it might not. It takes courage to open up the conversation regarding pay equity- and it’s an important one. Evaluate your current pay structure to make sure you’re aware of any discrepancies that might fall in line with this national average.

People should be paid the same amount for the same job, period. Women should be encouraged to go after raises just as much as men. By evaluating compensation trends, you can be aware of any patterns, inconsistent policies or obvious bias that may exist. By acknowledging it, you can take steps to make compensation systems more progressive and reflective of equal pay for equal work.


3. Stand Up to Gender Bias When It Happens

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is a great example of an executive who is leading the effort to end gender bias. He held a dinner meeting with 30 chief executives to discuss ways that men can close the gender gap and counteract bias in the workplace.

During their meeting, they discussed the unfair expectation on women to handle support work and “office housework”  such as taking notes. Here’s what Branson had to say on it:

“Not only is this unfair to women, but it’s also disadvantageous to men. It’s time for men to step up and do their share of support work. On top of counteracting gender bias in the workforce, it will also give men a better understanding of what [is] going on within the business and what needs to be done to make things run more effectively.”

According to Branson, it’s not about taking notes for the sake of note-taking, it’s about turning ideas into actionable and measurable goals.

“If you don’t write your ideas down, they could leave your head before you even leave the room.”

4. Establish Mentoring Programs

Sometimes, it’s not enough just to encourage women within the workplace with a one-time compliment or pat on the back. Some need extra guidance, courageous feedback, and organizational insider acumen in order to achieve their career ambitions and rise to new levels of leadership.

Research suggests that mentoring programs make for a more diverse leadership pipeline. They give minorities and women a brighter spotlight and help them climb the professional jungle gym with the help of strategic advocates, skills, and organizational knowledge.

Successful mentoring relationships pair women with senior leaders or colleagues who can illuminate steps and knowledge needed to get to their next promotion or transition. These mentors don’t have to be of the same gender. It is beneficial for men to mentor women, as men still hold the majority of senior leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies across the globe. Whether it’s mentoring circles, flash mentoring, or high potential mentoring, modern mentoring imparts a feeling of community that can help women feel more connected and engaged at work and in life.

(If you’re looking for more information on Mentoring Programs, check this out here)

It may not always feel like big strides, but we are taking steps to reduce and remove gender bias in the workplace. If we ever want to reach parity, we all have a role to play and we need to work diligently every day. The workplace should feel safe, equitable, and empowering for all.

We have been addressing this and various other topics during our keynotes for International Women’s Day. Here’s what a few of our listeners had to say at the end of our keynote:

What are some of the things you’re doing to reduce gender bias in the workplace?

Feel free to reach out to us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram and let us know, we’d love to hear about it.

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