Part II(b) #6 to #10: Equality doesn’t mean SAME | 20 ways for leaders to make a difference and promote gender diversity
Before we move ahead, here are two things raised as a concern to me through e-mails and messages during last few days –
- We don’t believe that women need more attention. We can’t ignore others in the team and only do things for women! We must give opportunities based on strengths instead of Gender.
- For this my only submission is – YOU ARE RIGHT. we are not talking about giving more attention to women. We are only talking about being aware of the differences, accept the differences, in order to change your style of working to leverage the best strengths of both sides – feminine and masculine. Different strokes for different folks. Also with regards to gender diversity, please refer to the research, importance and whys of this subject in Mckinsey, Forbes, Harvard and many other reputed organization’s researches.
2. I just feel this VICTIM card never works, only hard work pays! If women work as hard as men they will also get there.
- I’m not sure how to answer this :-). There is a long way for you to go, before you develop your maturity and understanding. Wait for such time.
Here are the next 5 things leaders can do to make a difference.
6. Deeper learning experience (education) to Men/Women at workplace
With the help of support teams and diversity committee, educate your workforce around the following topics –
- Implicit biases and expectations from opposite genders
- Understanding of deeper level of fears (shadows) faced by men and women that drive different behaviors
- Psychological / Physical or Biological stress faced by men & women
- Belief systems, values and other cultural norms that hinder fairness and maximum capability utilization of an employee
7. Reinforce behaviors that promote diversity
Accentuate the recognition (positive reinforcement) –
- When you witness someone taking an action that is helping women grow and succeed at workplace. Even if it is a small gesture of listening, supporting, respecting etc.
- When you observe a woman breaking the barriers and displaying winning capabilities without any shadows/fear
8. Respect Triggers & Sensitivities
A woman’s brain is biologically designed to be more sensitive to triggers and look into stuff in details.
Therefore, keeping your tone and body language milder than usual, especially when talking to women will always help you build better trust levels with them.
Also, a very important aspect about sensitivities and stereotypes, be absolutely conscious and careful about the following –
– Passing lose comments or cliché’d jokes around “Women, wives, spouse etc.”
– Interrupting women while they are expressing their point of views
– Unconsciously excluding the from conversations
– Being aggressive / louder expressions in heat of the moment
Research shows that both men and women think that women should be nice, kind and nurturing, and that men should be strong.
When men show anger it looks like strength, but when women do the same, they are perceived as too emotional and out of control. “These stereotypes are deeply ingrained”. Be aware of these in future.
Acknowledgement and Acceptance for emotions is the key to a balanced workplace. Employees must be encouraged and educated to share emotions in a balanced way, irrespective of gender.
10. Engaging Women at Work
While there are many other ways, here are 2 things I’d like to share –
a) Women derive more satisfaction from the softer, social aspects of work such as team work and feeling part of a ‘family’. As a leader, do encourage talks about family, bring more amiability at the workplace, for women to feel safer, comfortable and satisfied.
b) Provide opportunity for challenging tasks based on the merits and not on gender assumptions. If there are fears around women not being able to do it owing to family or physical issues, or perceived safety, travel etc. talk it out, cross-check your assumptions with them, do a pro-active contracting around expectations.
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Hope you are liking this series. Please pass on your comments and share with as many people as you can. This way we can make a larger difference by doing simple things.
Here are our coordinates in case you would like to get in touch with us for more details, or workshops, guest lectures or Virtual ILTs around this subject for your workforce.
M: +91 9731601397
Coming up: Points #11 to #15 in the next article “Part II(c)”.
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