Communication

Break The Bias

International Women's Day is held each year in March to help forge a gender equal world.
Celebrating women's achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key.

This years theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) is #BreakTheBias’.

For our team the area of bias we spent time talking about in preparation for IWD 2022 was working mothers.

A number of women in our team shared stories of how this bias continues to plague them in the work place and how damaging it is to the overall advancement of women and even workplace culture in general.

The global archetype of the ideal worker has always been someone who is ‘married to their job’.

This is not a healthy benchmark for any gender, but for the working mother this places even more pressure on the juggle she already faces and that’s before considering the emotional tug of war they are in. 

Research shows that motherhood triggers a number of (false) assumptions that can negatively affect their experience at work. These include but are not limited to:

-      Availability
-      Flexibility
-      Focus
-      Commitment
-      Productivity

The comment was made that motherhood bias is not just directed from male colleagues’ either. We all agreed that it was important to be aware that other women and even other mothers are guilty of leaning into this bias.

So, how can we work to identify bias when it’s happening and learn how to correct our behaviour?

Communication.

We love the tips from www.leanin.org and will all be committing to respond to bias when it occurs. 

1. Speak up for someone in the moment

For example, remind people of a colleague’s talents or ask to hear from someone who was interrupted. Or when someone says something incorrect (e.g., assumes a woman is more junior than she is), matter-of-factly correct them—either in the moment or in private later. 

2. Ask a probing question

Ask a question that makes your colleague examine their thinking—“What makes you say that?” “What are some examples of that?” This can help people discover the bias in their own thinking.

3. Stick to the facts

When you can, shift the conversation toward concrete, neutral information to minimise bias. For example, if someone makes a subjective or biased comment in a hiring or promotions meeting, refocus attention back to the list of criteria for the role.

4. Explain how bias is in play

Surface hidden patterns you’ve observed and explain what they mean. Research shows that a matter-of-fact explanation can be an effective way to combat bias. For example, mention to a hiring committee that you've noticed they tend to select men over women with similar abilities, or point out to your manager that women are doing more of the "office housework."

5. Advocate for policy or process change

Talk to HR or leadership at your company and recommend best practices that reduce bias.

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. (source: www.internationalwomensday.com) 

Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias.

Take action for equality!

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