What is gender bias, and what can leaders do to banish it from the workplace? We explore how empowering female and female-identifying employees with the same opportunities can cultivate safer spaces to grow.
With only nine FTSE 100 companies currently led by female CEOs, there’s never been a better time to share the challenges that women face on an everyday basis. From employers failing to build gender-balanced leadership teams, to the “double juggle” of being a successful business person and mother/caregiver. These things have now been further amplified throughout the pandemic era.
We explore what it means to encounter gender bias, and how to call it out. With the right knowledge, we can work consciously and collectively to remove it from our workplaces; paving the way for a fearless and fairer future for women.
What is gender bias in the workplace?
While not always obvious, gender bias continues to subtly infiltrate business practices at all levels; almost always to the detriment of women in the workplace. This includes the gender pay gap, the absence of women in senior leadership positions, or a lack of psychological safety in everyday working environments.
On the subject of “micro-aggressions”, a recent study conducted by software company Workhuman found that 32% of female respondents were interrupted during meetings. Another 29% were told that they were “too emotional”. Even more shocking, a quarter of participants were told they “had to change” to be taken more seriously. In its many forms, gender bias continues to disarm women at all stages of their career. So, what can be done about it?
Businesses must practice what they preach
While leaders may champion inclusivity as the cornerstone of their company values, the sentiment is meaningless without action. Banishing gender bias goes beyond the theater of fancy employer branding. To make a tangible difference, businesses must commit to making permanent changes within their culture and practices. Here, employer transparency can prove a key pillar to building that trust. It’s important to remember that gender bias cannot be erased overnight. However, there are many ways companies can start to practice what they preach.
How to challenge gender bias in the workplace
From empowering the voices of underrepresented groups, to improving your understanding of the current challenges faced by female employees; here are just some of the ways businesses can take small steps to break the bias.
🦸♀️ Learn to recognize gender gaps in your hiring practices
Whether seeking new talent or promoting existing team members, where does your company stand when it comes to gender equity? By collecting and analyzing the data behind your workplace demographics, gender-related metrics can help identify these gaps. This also makes benchmarking for the future a whole lot clearer; likely involving a commitment to hiring and promoting female employees at all levels. Casting the net wider through addressing disparities within your current recruitment strategy is also a crucial approach to consider.
🦸♀️ Understand the female employee experience to build a better one
A lack of empathy and understanding can result in gender bias creeping in from all sides. Leaders who show compassion and choose to listen to the unique challenges of their employees will feel illuminated to do more. Not only will this help them drive change for employees – but the customers they serve. Women who feel part of that open conversation are more likely to share their experiences of inequality that may exist within your organization. Leaders who understand that gender bias is not an abstract construct can use their powers to help eradicate its presence, slowly but surely.
🦸♀️ Empower the LGBTQ+ community within your workplace
While elevating women, businesses must also strive to champion the voices of the LGBTQ+ community. Leaders seen to empower only those they identify with are driving gender bias on a grander scale than they could imagine. For those who identify as women or outside the gender binary, a safe and inclusive working environment is crucial to the emotional wellbeing of all employees. Breaking the bias through advocating underrepresented groups can only empower businesses to achieve greater things, with their people feeling inspired and supported to do so.
🦸♀️ Elevate working mothers
‘Being a mother doesn’t divide one’s ability to work hard, it multiplies it’, reminds SAP Chief Revenue Officer, Customer Experience Jen Bailin. Businesses that work hard to support working mothers can help others overcome the age-old stereotypes attached. This includes the assumption that just because some women are mothers, doesn’t mean they aren’t as committed to their jobs. Flexibility and trust are keys to empowering women, often at their most vulnerable when returning after having children. Equally, when it comes to your organization’s parental leave policy, leaders must also address its inclusivity in supporting same-sex parents, adoptive parents, and non-traditional families.
When it comes to Human Resources, could your business use a helping hand?
With ADDA Infusion, we offer support to companies large and small. Whether implementing a full-service HR department or supporting your current HR team.
Find out more by getting in touch today!