Martin Luther King said:
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Inspired by his words, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we are sharing 31 ways to #breakthebias in the workplace and move towards a gender-equal world, that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.
In this way, we hope to inspire more people to make (or keep making) the change and feel able to challenge bias when they experience it so that together we can more towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world, where difference is celebrated.
Flip it – Have you heard a woman being referred to as a ‘working Mum’? I am guessing the answer is yes, but how often do you hear men referred to as a ‘working Dad?’ If it can’t be flipped don’t say it. See the @ManWhoHasItAll parody Twitter account to highlight the double standards and bias that exists in society.
Read ‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez, a book filled with eye-opening data that will help you understand bias in a world designed by men.
Sponsor a female colleague. A sponsor's role is to support and advise as well as advocate for you in key meetings and conversations. Sponsors have the potential to create career opportunities and open doors.
‘One and done’ is not enough, recruiting one woman to the top table and thinking the work is done is not enough to make change happen. According to research women need to make up 30% of the Board table before they have enough critical mass to help make boardrooms more collaborative and less hierarchical.
Use an intersectional lens; Consider the diversity of women in your organisation. The minority within the minority, are some women having it harder than others? What is the experience of Black women, women who identify as having a disability, or from the LGBTQ+ community?
Listen – Ask women about their experiences and obstacles they face and act on their recommendations
Flexibility – create the ability for ALL roles to be part-time and role model it from the top.
Start at home – who does the housework, the lion’s share of the caring and household admin? Have you got the balance right and what is this balance role modelling to others?
Celebrate female breadwinners. Women out-earn male partners in almost 25% of households, up from 20% 16 years ago, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on behalf of Royal London, the mutual insurer. Rather than stigmatising them negatively as alpha females. Reading Rocking Your Role, the guide to success for female breadwinners to understand their experience.
Stop judging women on their personal style rather than their outcomes. Research has shown that it is 66% more likely to happen for women in their performance reviews
Promote women on the potential they show rather than their track record, so they don’t have to prove themselves over and over again. Learn more about proving it again bias here
Create inclusive work environments where women don’t feel they must hide motherhood to be considered serious about their career
Stop judging women leaders more harshly than male leaders. Termed the glass cliff, women who manage to break through the glass ceiling to achieve senior leadership positions traditionally reserved for men (such as CEO or Chair of the Board) find themselves in a precarious position—women in leadership positions attract greater scrutiny and are judged more harshly on their performance compared with male peers and are more likely to be fired.
Stop falling foul of affinity bias and recruiting in your own image. You’ll end up with groupthink and a lack of creativity.
Be a pioneer. Just because a woman has never been in the role before doesn’t mean that it can’t be done
Stop stagnating women’s careers when they are parents, their contribution is valuable when they are parents and when they are not, According to You Gov nearly 2 in 5 mothers say having children had a negative impact on their career.
Amplify the voice of the only woman in the room, by picking up on her points and ensuring she is heard
Don’t leave the office housework to women, such as admin tasks, making the tea, supporting colleagues, and if she does do these tasks, make sure that she gets credit for them.
Notice who gets the stretch assignments and more interesting projects, are you giving everyone an opportunity?
Ask for feedback specifically on your bias and be prepared to change
Make sure women are in the room when you are making decisions, so you don’t end up creating solutions that only work for 50% of the population
Collate data on the recruitment, retention, career trajectory of your female staff, as well as the intersection of their identities.
Do exit interviews to understand what you could do better
Don’t burden women with shifting the dial on gender balance in your organisation, on top of their day job, be prepared to do the work yourself
Tune into the challenges women face in work and in society, keep in touch with world affairs, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts etc
Respect and appreciate the difference, so that women don’t feel that they must adopt certain behaviours to succeed.
Believe them – if you dismiss a woman who says that she is experiencing bias in the workplace, you’ve missed an opportunity for change.
Set public targets for female representation at all levels of your business – what gets measured, gets done.
Notice and challenge microaggressions like ‘stop being so emotional' or ‘I find you aggressive’ when women are being passionate, and challenge them
Complete the Implicit Test to check your bias. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science
Don’t just think internally in your organisation, seek out diverse suppliers like the NBWN..