At the beginning of the month, we defined gender discrimination and discussed the various ways in which it can be found in the workplace. Our blog this week takes the conversation further with some examples of how employers can support women in their workplace, and by doing so, how they advance the movement in dismantling gender biases.
Before we examine how to combat gender bias, let’s review the difference between unconscious and conscious bias. This understanding is important in order to reflect on where bias may exist in the company, and how to address it.
Conscious versus unconscious bias
Conscious bias is, quite frankly, being aware of one’s own prejudices against a particular gender. An example of an action of conscious bias is an employer who openly prefers to promote men to management positions because they believe that men are inherently more suited to these roles than women. Conscious biases are a little ‘easier’ to address than unconscious ones simply because all parties involved are generally aware that its happening.
Unconscious biases are still occurring out in the open, and quite possibly are easy to identify, but the difference is that the person(s) acting upon them is either unaware or unwilling to accept them. Taking our employer example, this person’s preferential treatment of men would be taking place even though they believe they treat men and women equally when considering promotions. The actions just don’t match up with the belief here.
Ways to combat gender bias
- Identify the problem(s). This means you’re looking at hiring, firing, promoting, etc. practices for trends and if those trends reveal biases. This information is essential before any plan of action can be made.
- Adopt diversity strategies for recruiting. One example would be auditing job descriptions to ensure they do not contain gendered language. Another is implementing company policies that could attract a wider range of candidates, such as flexible working schedules and community volunteering.
- Outsource gender diversity training. And don’t think it’s one and done. Training should be required on an ongoing basis.
- Provide access to resources. Examples include skill trainings and a mentorship program. Investing in your employee’s careers has proven to be beneficial for both worker and employer.
- Equal pay practices. We’re going to look deeper into this issue next week, but put simply, unless women and men are paid equally at a company, the movement to dismantle other gender biases can’t even get started.
A good approach to addressing gender biases is to see it as a part of the company culture. In order for it to be effective it must be tended to: evaluated for effectiveness and changed when needed. It’s a living program. Want to make sure you have the right support to begin? Eos HR is that team. We make sure small business employers have the resources they need to lead a productive and safe workplace. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
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