#BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day

March 8, 2022

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, bias is “an inclination of temperament or outlook especially a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.” Biases, even those unconsciously promoted, are hurtful to the marginalized community that the bias represents. This International Women’s Day, #BreakTheBias invites society to stand up against judgments and stereotypes and celebrate a world of gender equality where being different is valued.

In a perfect world, once industries achieve gender balance, bias will decrease and gender gaps will close but it’s not that simple. Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce but only 27.1% of women hold leadership roles. Despite the fact that women score higher than men on 17 of the 19 most important leadership skills, according to a survey from Harvard Business Review. People tend to think that having more women present is all that’s needed to promote change, but traditional organizational structures and systems need to change to benefit everyone. Below are 3 ways to combat workplace bias to create a more inclusive company culture.

Turn the Unconscious into Conscious

Biases are so ingrained in our society and culture that many people don’t realize they are contributing to harmful stereotypes. The first step is to make people aware of how what they are saying or doing is harmful to the subject. While sometimes uncomfortable, this is an important first step in rewriting the narrative to be more inclusive. By having these conversations, (yes more than one is necessary), you empower those around you to reflect on their thoughts and actions and actively work to be more inclusive to those around them.

Control How Others View You (And How You View Yourself)

As women, we can also promote stereotypes by feeding into narratives about women in the workplace. We must combat these stereotypes with deliberate strategies to empower ourselves and others. It’s important to know your skill sets and boundaries. Knowing what you bring to the table and your self-worth can help to inspire confidence as a leader. That includes saying no. Many times, we are hesitant to say “No” due to our ingrained people-pleasing nature. To be recognized by the executive team, we overload ourselves with tasks and projects to equal or exceed our male counterparts’ contributions.

This can lead to burnout and mental health issues. According to a 2021 statistic from McKinsey, 42% of US female workers suffer from burnout, compared to only 35% of their male coworkers. Overall, burnout statistics and the rise of chronic mental illness has only intensified due to the idea of “always on” culture promoted and strengthened by the pandemic and remote working.

Find Allies and Be an Ally

Friends and mentors are important for everyone but especially for women in the workplace. Align yourself with like-minded individuals with similar goals to dismantle exclusive systems. McKinsey states that “women are twice as likely to do DE&I work, especially surrounding recruitment, and more likely to be allies to women of color compared to men.” Today, it is extremely important for people in leadership positions to inspire, mentor, and support those not in positions of power to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace culture.

Cherie Shepard, Partner and Founder of DRI’s Women’s Group shares why it’s so important to have a group dedicated to the empowerment of women.

"In conversations with the women in our organization, they share their gratitude and appreciation for having a Women's Group. It allows them to create and cultivate relationships with the women of Direct Recruiters – regardless of industry or station. The times we set aside throughout the year for our meetings and activities allow us to bond as a team, especially with a hybrid and remote workforce. This is a reminder that we are together; working to raise one another up and share in each other's successes and life events. These are the touchstones we have to remind one another that we are here for each other.”

In the end, dismantling these systems that no longer service the modern workplace is a job for men and women alike. Confront your biases, include women and POC in conversations, and work towards a common goal to create a more diverse and equitable corporate culture. This International Women’s Day, I urge you to reflect on your thoughts and actions and actively make a change to #BreakTheBias.

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