The road to a gender equal workplace is a long and difficult one. One of the many issues that has worked against the equality agenda is man-shaming! A recent Harvard study showed that traditional diversity training programs of organizations have in fact increased the gender gap in organizations as most training programs made men feel bad about themselves. This has led to awkwardness and uncertainty on how they need to behave and the easiest way out of this conundrum has been to avoid or limit their interactions with women.
Added to this, a few women groups have wiped their hands-off men with the belief that the onus of achieving gender equality lies only with women!
Making it into a ‘women vs. men’ situation will naturally end up defeating the purpose. What the Gender Equal workplace needs, is for men and women to work together to bring about a more equal work culture.
We atPink Ladder, work closely with organizations and individuals to achieve gender equality at all levels of the organization. Having worked closely with all stakeholders in organizations to achieve this, we believe men and women can adopt the following strategies to achieve gender-equality at the work place:
Diversify the interview panel: Many companies may have a clear rule to bring in x% of women applicants for a job role, but if the interview panel doesn’t have an equal gender representation, it can still lead to less women being hired for the role. Companies can have a rule defining the minimum percentage of women in the interview panel as well.
Build a network of Champions (both male and female): A survey by research firm Ipsos in India and Russia showed that half of women and men surveyed felt that women were inferior to men. While these are shockingly large numbers, it also means the other half believe in Gender equality. Get those people on board and train them on how to educate people whenever they see incidents of bias and misogyny
Have a no-interruption rule: A recent Pink Ladder survey on confidence index of women professionals in India showed that over 70% women feel they are constantly interrupted during key meetings/presentations. Ensure that you set up a “no interruption rule” during key meetings, thereby letting women make their points seamlessly. Get the champions to speak out when it occurs. People who will step up and let the interrupter know that it is the presenters turn to speak and that she should be allowed to do so without interruptions.
Give her ideas due credit: In our recent survey, 70% of women felt their ideas were being appropriated and this is holding them back. Create a culture within the organization where achievements are showcased to a larger audience and are not left to the whims and fancies for the manager.
Decode her verbal cues: Many times, women tend to use qualifiers in their communication to avoid being perceived as bossy or bitchy. A culture where she has the voice to speak up without repercussions needs to be inculcated. Bring about awareness with both men and women on the issues women face when they speak up and also educate them on how to communicate more openly
Leave the decision to her: In many instances, a key role or promotion is decided as not being a right fit for a woman colleague even before its offered to her because it is believed that she will not be willing to travel far, relocate or manage kids along with the additional work responsibility. Don’t assume and deny her a chance, instead offer it to her & ask!
She deserves it, she just doesn’t ask: Women typically tend to ask 30% less than their male counterparts when it comes to salary negotiations. They also don’t tend to put their hands up and nominate themselves for key roles or promotions as they believe their work speaks for itself. As organizations, ensure that you monitor closely if men are asking more for hikes than women and ensure that you publish the salary offered for each role in a transparent manner so that there is no scope for a woman employee being paid less for the same role. Also ensure there are sponsors assigned to high potential women employees so that they will present a business case for promotion for these women professionals with the opportunity arises.
All these changes and more are required if we must achieve a gender equal work environment. This cannot be a quick fix solution, but a sustained effort needed from the organization as well as their employees- both male and female. Companies like ours can be an able ally in helping them achieve these objectives along their journey. I strongly believe that men and women are two sides of the same coin and if either side is missing, the coin will not be of any value!
About the author:
He is the Co-Founder of Pink Ladder. He carries over 14 years of experience across strategy, marketing, operations and human resources working in leading organizations like MeritTrac-India’s largest Skills Assessment Company, Wipro Technologies and Accenture. He has worked closely with leading universities, industry bodies, analysts and research firms globally and acted as a catalyst in providing best practices and insights to customers across sectors. He has authored papers & articles on marketing, gender diversity in international journals & has been a guest speaker at many conferences and Ivy league Universities globally. Karthik has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Bangalore University & an MBA in Marketing & Finance from IMI Belgium
Please note: The views, opinions and beliefs expressed by the authors in the articles on the blog are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Lean In India.