This is a continuation of the discussion on how male colleagues and managers can contribute to getting the women they work with an equal and unbiased place at the table in their organizations.
Organizations today want to have more women leaders, and the conversation around empowering women in the workplace and fighting against bias continues. Especially at this time of the year. However, statistics tell us, the higher up the chain one goes, the fewer women in management there are. There is a long way to go before the majority of IT/ ITES companies can boast of having equal pay, equal opportunity, and unbiased hiring and review processes. So, what can men in management roles do to instill fair and equitable practices, to provide women the fillip they need?
Consider not just the what, but the who
The management is engaging in removing gender bias and anti-discriminatory training. But who is doing the talking? Is it an all-male management/ leadership team talking to women? Women are more likely to take company policy around promoting women in management more seriously, and apply for and work towards leadership roles, when they see other women in leadership roles. Organizations should strive to hire more women into management roles and provide opportunities internally for real growth amongst female employees.
Guard against unconscious bias
As a male manager or team lead, you also need to guard against unconsciously undermining or talking down to your female subordinates, and ensure that you speak to them and treat them as you do male members of the team. The truth of the matter is, most people do tend to act through a lens colored by bias, albeit unaware. Indeed, 4 in 10 women in the US have reported facing discrimination at the workplace, ranging from being paid less for the same role to being passed over in favor of a male colleague when it was time to hand out an important assignment.
Offer flexibility to meet the new ways of working
Making sure that, aside from having the same amount of paid time off and sick days as male counterparts, there are fair policies in place that afford women remote working opportunities, flexibility of hours (including part-time positions) or work from home (WFH) option, is extremely important today, in light of the pandemic.
Managing children at home or being the primary caregiver to an elderly family member has become par for the course for many women (and some men too). Women still bear the brunt of taking care of the family and shoulder most household responsibilities. In addition, given that many women lost jobs or bowed out of the workforce this past year, the time will come when they plan a return to the workforce. Not judging them negatively for that gap on their resume and creating programs that assist them in rejoining the workforce after a time, will go a long way.
Aside from her gender itself, marital status, motherhood, and such factors should not impede a woman’s career growth, and as men in management roles, you can foster an atmosphere that is flexible and non-discriminatory.
“Everyone has a role to play on the path to Equality. Men can mentor, sponsor, advocate, and champion their women leaders, peers, or employees. We can all be allies to one another and help drive Gender Equality forward.” – Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce