It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences. (Audre Lorde)
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are sharing 37 ways to #embracequity in the workplace and move towards a world that recognises, accepts, and celebrates difference, enabling equal outcomes for women.
Striving for Equity is very close to my heart. My definition of Equity is:
Understanding and giving women and those from minoritised groups what they need to achieve equal outcomes. This is achieved by considering systems that disadvantage some and seeking to overcome them. To do so we need to take an individual approach, to lead, share power and focus on outcomes.
Here are my top tips to embrace equity this International Women’s Day and beyond, let me know which you’ll try or what you’d add to the list of 37 ways to embrace equity and feel free to tag me on twitter @jennifergarrett or LinkedIn
- Flip it – Have you heard a woman being referred to as a ‘working Mum’? I am guessing that 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 @ManWhoHasItAll parody Twitter account to highlight the double standards and bias that exists in society.
- 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. According to research, 59% of Black Women have now had an informal conversation with a senior manager, and as a result, are much less likely to have a sponsor.
- ‘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? According to ONS data in 2021, the median pay for disabled women (£11.51 per hour) was 10.5% less than non-disabled women (£12.86 per hour)
- 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.
- Support women online – women and those from Black and minoritised backgrounds experience disproportionate levels of online abuse.
- Quotas – Positive action is needed to increase women’s representation and ensure women, especially disabled women, and women from Black and minoritised backgrounds, are selected. See the Runnymede Trusts Broken Ladders Report which highlights that ‘75% of women of colour have experienced racism at work, and 61% report changing themselves to ‘fit in’.
- Recruit age-positively – ensure that job adverts are accessible to older workers and use age-neutral language and images. Promote an age-positive culture: emphasise the importance of older employees’ contribution to the organisation and appreciate and recognise the benefits to the business of having an age-diverse workforce. Research conducted over the last few years has shown that the earnings of older female workers are affected by the intersection of gender and age discrimination. Women experience menopause, may have to care for elderly relatives, and are likely to have fewer career progression and development opportunities.
- 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 a quarter of households, up from a fifth 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 prove 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 an Ally – Mentor, Advocate and be a trusted confidante for women in the workplace, and ensure that you look out for the minoritised women, such as those who are neurodivergent, who have an accent, and those who are introverted.
- 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, and career trajectory of your female staff, as well as the intersection of their identities.
- Undertake 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 and then find ways to remove the obstacles to their success.
- Respect and appreciate differences, 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.
- Educate others on what microaggressions are and create environments that do not tolerate them. 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 Association 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 too and diversify your pool of coaches.
- When restructuring or making layoffs, ensure that women are not disproportionately impacted.
- Look at your gender pay gap data, be transparent about the findings, and plan to close the gap.
- Appreciate that talent doesn’t just look and behave in one way. To do so, separate performance from potential and personality from skill sets.
This International Women’s Day take your first step to Embrace Equity in your organisation.
Feel free to share this list to help others #embraceequity – please do credit www.jennygarrett.global
Check out my latest book Equality vs Equity, tackling issues of race in the workplace
I am available for keynote talks and am listed on the official International Women’s Day site
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