What Women Want in the Workplace: Part 3

July 31, 2017

 

What women want in the workplace and elsewhere? There’s nothing mysterious about it – the same treatment as white men: respect, opportunity, recognition, fair compensation, an equal voice, as well as physical and emotional well-being. Another way of putting it is common courtesy.

 

The bottom line is that a change in organizational culture begins with each of us taking responsibility for treating each other in a way that honors and embraces differences. A financial investment is unnecessary -- only a willingness to be mindful of how we treat others and ensure everyone is invited, included, and heard in the “conversation”.

 

"The bottom line is that a change in organizational culture begins with each of us taking responsibility for treating each other in a way that honors and embraces differences."

 

Part 3 of this series covers the remaining two points. If you missed the previous four, take a few minutes to catch up by reading the two preceding blogs.

 

#6: Ensure women have an equal voice

 

This action intersects with respect, opportunity, and recognition. Innovation is a critical aspect for maintaining a competitive advantage. Experts and research continuously point to the importance of diversity of thought versus groupthink to foster innovation. Women bring a unique perspective that deserves to be heard and taken seriously.

 

It is a well-known fact and extensively researched that men interrupt women more than they do with their male colleagues. This continues to promote the feeling of having “no voice”. Make sure your female team members have equal “air time”.

 

“When I’m heard, I feel respected” WGBH News reporter

 

There’s an easy approach to avoid interrupting in general and women in particular – pause before you talk to be sure the other person has finished their sentence – what a novel idea! You may actually hear something that will add to your suggestion/comment that may have otherwise been missed. 

 

There may be situations in which a female team member is hesitant to speak up. Actively solicit her input when you notice this happening. Her reluctance may be based on past experiences.

Ensure the women on the team are actively engaged in the discussion to determine the best approach.

 

Make a conscious decision to objectively explore all ideas regardless of the source. There’s a high probability the results will be better. Ensure the women on the team are actively engaged in the discussion to determine the best approach.

 

#7 Emotional and Physical Well-being

 

This is a euphemism for sexual harassment and/or sexual discrimination. The news today is riddled with articles about toxic environments for women, offensive “locker room” talk, unwanted advances, and sexual harassment lawsuits. Suffice it to say, any action or comment that sexualizes women or reflects sexism, is totally inappropriate and puts women at physical or emotional risk. 

 

What can you do about it? Here are several suggestions:

 

-Think about how you’d want a woman close to you treated before you do something that may cross the line. If it’s unacceptable for that woman, then why do it to another one? Or, how would you feel if a woman made unwanted advances toward you?

 

-When in doubt, check with a close female friend or confidant. What seems innocuous to you may be deeply offensive to women.

 

-Take a woman seriously if she calls you out on inappropriate behavior or comments. Never, ever, invalidate her perspective.

 

-Rather than sitting idly by, call your male colleagues out when you hear a conversation that demeans women. Worst yet, is becoming part of the conversation.

 

Actively promote a zero tolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination on your team and/or at your company.

 

Some people may scoff at the simplicity of these suggestions. I realize that many of the issues addressed are complex (especially pay equity). My intention is to start a process that will ultimately lead to a sustained understanding of the value of differences and specifically treating women equally.

 

My intention is to start a process that will ultimately lead to a sustained understanding of the value of differences and specifically treating women equally.

 

There’s an old saying: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I’ve found that if one thing is changed, the outcome is significantly different.

 

What has been your experience?

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