CategoryWomen at Work

Addressing Gender Bias Complaints

Last week’s post discussed ways to show women the respect they deserve at work. One of the recommendations was believing women when they bring gender bias and discrimination to management’s attention.

When the issues are not blatant, it can be difficult to determine if a problem really exists … and more difficult to know what to do about it.

Inevitably, the woman is going to say something happened — but the man is going to say there is no issue and it is all in the other woman’s mind. That pesky discrimination dogwhistle is going to continue to blow — and your workplace will suffer and be at risk.

Count on it.

How do you get to the truth?

Look for patterns

Review communications for tone and timing. Also look at audience and escalation. If there is bias, you will find the messages have a negative, condescending and/or demanding tone. You will also find copying of unnecessary other people on messages and/or escalating issues to the woman’s supervisor which should be resolved a peer level … Compare these patterns to the handling of communications with male co-workers in similar positions and see if the same thing is happening. If not, gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Listen for buzzwords

Pay attention to how women are described. Girls, gals and females are words that can chip away at respect for women in the workplace. Some other buzzwords are dramatic, emotional, nagging, whiny, bossy and pushy.  Even worse are words like pussy and bitch … When traits associated with women or being a woman are used as negative adjectives to describe anyone in your workplace, it is wrong — and gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Learn from witnesses

Your employees are smart and they see what’s going on. Many are eager to share their observations and feedback. Utilize witnesses to gain insight into the issues. Ask what they have seen occur between the parties involved and what their own observations and experiences have been … See if they say the treatment for all is the same. If not, gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Gender bias is happening. Now what???

Gender bias in your workplace doesn’t mean firing all the men and replacing them with women. The goal should always be to maintain diversity, inclusion and fairness.

What it does mean sharing the feedback and taking corrective action with the men who show gender bias behaviors.  It means declaring what is unacceptable. It means outlining what is appropriate. It means providing one or both parties with training to improve communication and inclusion skills. It means not allowing these kinds of behaviors to continue.

That means following up with both individuals routinely to assess progress. It means resetting expectations. It means defining timelines and deadlines for improvement. It means checking in periodically to ensure sustained effort.

Because eliminating bias in our workplaces isn’t just a one-and-done kind of thing. It takes continuous, concentrated and committed effort. It is nothing to play with.

Don’t start the work if you don’t intend to finish it.

 

Give Women the Respect They Deserve at Work

Recently, a story went viral about a man accidentally sending emails as his woman co-worker.  The person he emailed argued with him about recommendations. However, when he clarified that he was actually sending them email, not the woman, they immediately changed their tune and began to comply with what was asked.

To see if the issue was a fluke, he kept sending emails as his woman co-worker for several more days. He learned it wasn’t a fluke. Clients and other co-workers gave him all kinds of push-back on issues when they normally would not. He found his advice was not followed. His recommendations were challenged. His data was questioned.

Meanwhile, his woman co-worker was having the best week of her career. Clients were more responsive. They accepted her recommendations almost immediately. She was not questioned or challenged on anything.

Because they thought she was a man.

Her co-worker thought she was less productive and effective because he had more experience than she did. He assumed she was less organized and not as strong at communicating.

He was wrong.

Women in workplaces all over the world are facing this same challenge every day. And it is a shame that it takes a man to experience the behaviors for society at large to believe it.

But now that the truth is out, what are we going to do about it?

  • Accept the fact of gender discrimination in your workplace. It is impossible for our world to be full of patriarchy, male privilege and rape culture … yet our workplace be clear of any of those effects. Impossible. It’s there. Face it.
  • Believe women. Sexist behaviors much like racist behaviors are very nuanced. It is another kind of dogwhistle. When women tell you that they’ve heard the whistle blow, trust that they’re being honest about their experience. Take them seriously and look into the issue.
  • Call out unacceptable behavior. When an issue is found, address it. Swiftly, directly and candidly. Put bad behavior on blast and make sure it is clear it will not be tolerated.
  • Demand respect. Women in positions of authority must be given support to do their jobs without insolence or interference. That support means not allowing others to undermine them or call their integrity into question without evidence. It means not allowing men to take credit for their work or to be the face of projects to make things easier or more comfortable. It means giving them unfettered loyalty.
  • Enforce the standard. Do not do business with clients or continue to employ people who show disrespect for women. Point out the behavior and require change — but if the person cannot comply, cut them loose. Continuing to associate with sexist people once you’re aware that they’re sexist means you are sexist too. If that isn’t true, you will remove them from areas of authority and influence in your organization and your life.

Hiring women and promoting them isn’t enough if you’re not willing to support them in overcoming the hindrances and obstacles that impact their effectiveness and productivity. Make sure they are given the respect they deserve.

Happy #TKDay!! Cuz We All Need a Tiffany

March 15th is Tiffany Keuhl‘s birthday … so the BlogFFs decided to embarrass celebrate her with posts across our collective social media.

I met Tiffany on Twitter about 4 years ago when she retweeted something I posted. Soon after, I followed her back on Twitter … then we connected on LinkedIn … then Facebook … then we exchanged phone numbers and began talking/texting.

And now I cannot imagine my world without her.

Tiffany is a great friend. When she rocks with you, she rocks with you. You don’t have to wonder how she feels about you because she tells you. You don’t have to worry if she’ll be there when you need her because when you look over your shoulder, she’s already there. Through every victory I’ve had and every loss I’ve suffered since we became friends, she has been a consistent source of encouragement and support.

Tiffany is an amazing HR professional. There a few people who know more about the world of HR and are willing to share without hesitation or expectation than my Tiffers. She “gets” that sharing information with others doesn’t diminish her value, worth or importance. She “gets” that helping others makes her and our profession better.

Tiffany is a networking savant. Tiffany knows everybody! And she knows somebody who knows somebody. She is intentional about being current and connected to other professionals. In every conference or seminar or meeting she attends, you will see her on the move, shaking hands and taking photos and exchanging information and making introductions and getting to know people. She soaks it all up like a sponge — then she squeezes it out by connecting those connections to the rest of us.

Tiffany is a loving family woman. She is married to another HR pro — and they have a beautiful son. She is a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a cousin. She loves her family and is as dedicated to them as she is to her friends and her career.

Tiffany is fun, funny and fun-loving. Our conversations (although mostly by text these days because our schedules are unnaturally hectic) are always hilarious. You will find her on Instagram out-and-about in great places with great people having a great time. Even when she’s down, she’s never out of encouraging words or positive perspective.

Turnup with us for #TKDay online … cuz we all need more people like her in our lives. And when we have them, we should absolutely celebrate them.

Happy Birthday, Tiffers!!

Bunches of love      ~ Buzzarooney

 

TKDay - Tiffany Kuehl

From PIC — “The Many Ridiculous Roles for Women in the Workplace”

Early in my career, I read an article which said  men generally cast women into 1 of 5 roles in the workplace.

Those 5 roles are Mother, Wife, Girlfriend/Mistress, Sister or Daughter.

  • Mother is expected to coddle and comfort and cover, even when you’re not doing what you should. Sometimes they nag or punish you — but not too severely because mother never wants to see you suffer.
  • Wife is expected to help and support the men they work with, no matter what. They nag more often than mothers — but they don’t press too hard because they care for and rely on you. The wife is all bark but no bite.
  • Girlfriend/Mistress is expected to help and support the men they work with. Because there is chemistry and affinity, the girlfriend/mistress often receives reciprocal help and support. However, the length and level of loyalty is limited because commitment to the relationship is missing.
  • Sister switches from collaborator to competitor and back again with the men they work with. Because the relationship feels familial, there is reciprocal help and a level of loyalty in the relationship.
  • Daughter needs to be looked out for by the men they work with. She needs coddling, comfort, cover and coaching. She yields loyalty and commitment and is treated with kindness.

On the surface, these roles are harmless. In fact, men are often cast into the same roles (father, husband, boyfriend, brother, son) … However, men have 2 additional roles rarely attributed to women — coach and boss.

For men and women who participate in sports or other competitive activities at some point in life, they see men in coaching roles more often than they see women. When they encounter a person at work who is demanding but caring, they put them in the coach box … If they’ve never had a woman coach, they won’t view women at work thru this lens and they’ll put a demanding but caring woman in the mother or wife box instead. Same applies if they’ve never had a woman as boss previously.

Again, on the surface, this seems harmless … But what happens when a man’s relationship with these roles are not positive? For women, we can switch up and view thru the lens of coach or boss — where we know those roles must be respected and revered, even when our personal feelings about the individual isn’t positive. For men, they often can’t get beyond the familial lens to see the woman thru a lens that commands respect. The relationship becomes peppered with resistance, defiance, insolence and passive-aggressive behaviors that can damage a working relationship beyond repair.

When men encounter women of color in the workplace, it can be even worse. If a man has not encountered women of color regularly outside of work, they often cannot see them thru any of these lenses. When this happens, women of color are relegated to stereotypes and caricatures instead. Stereotypes and caricatures are rarely worthy of respect or loyalty.

These roles and lenses create a minefield of issues surrounding gender in our workplaces. From the outside looking in, no one really understand why the relationship isn’t working — and the woman is often blamed for the persisting problem and the lack of resolution.

The article from all those years ago essentially told women there was nothing they could do to break beyond the confines of these roles. It advised women to position themselves to be placed in the roles of sister or daughter to avoid being viewed as nagging or coddling … Early in my career, I tried to follow this. It worked. In some ways, it still does. I’ve watched enough women and men cast into these roles to believe this is true and operating in workplaces all over.

I’m ready to turn the page on this. I’m ready to see women break free of these roles.

We cannot do this without help and change by men. Men have to push and force themselves to see women as coaches and bosses in addition to the other roles.

How?

Read the rest at Performance I Create

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