No one wants to find out (or be outright told) that they are biased. Unfortunately, we’re basically hardwired into prejudiced thinking from the moment of birth. The upside of this is that the majority of our prejudiced thoughts live in our unconscious brains; the bad news is that makes it all the more difficult to notice and change it.
Unconscious bias is the preference for a certain social group that lies outside of your awareness. It’s particularly difficult to catch and change in the workplace because of an unspoken desire to maintain the status quo. Gender plays a huge factor in this, affecting how a workplace supports, rewards, and reviews job candidates and employees.
There are a lot of ways that you can change the gender-biased culture of your workplace. Here are a few to get you started:
Check and accept your own biases
o Awareness of where your bias lies is the key to counteracting it. For example, gender bias can exist in the form of snap judgments, like if you consider a loud woman “aggressive” and a loud man “assertive”.
Put equal opportunity hiring processes in place by avoiding the use of gender charged words in job postings
o Words like “confident”, “decisive”, and “strong” tend to deter women and attract men, whereas words like “supportive”, “committed”, and “interdependent” deter men and attract women. Neutral words like “effective” or “excellent” work better. By doing so, you’re increasing the likelihood of having a diverse pool of candidates to hire from.
Do more to promote women to senior leadership positions (on boards, in the C-suite, etc.)
o Provide leadership and professional development opportunities to all – don’t make decisions for employees based on their gender. Assuming a woman wouldn’t be interested in a promotion because she has kids is a no-no move.
Give everyone an equal seat at the table
o When starting up a project, bring together a diverse team to work on it! Doing so encourages open dialogue if and/or when unconscious bias pops up and allows for more brainstorming power.
Offer benefits that support work-life balance
o Flexible hours and paid parental leave (for mothers and fathers) are just a few ways you can implement a better balance for all of your employees
Review your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. And, if you don’t have any, implement them!
A gender diverse team increases productivity, innovation, and the overall value of your business. How could you not want that?
International Women's Day 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual - An equal world is an enabled world.