Momentum is building for the coming election. And whether you’re part of the 99 percent or the 1 percent, you’ve probably witnessed or experienced gender bias when it comes to women as leaders. We’re seeing it play out now on the national stage: behaviors considered acceptable, or even encouraged, from Bernie Sanders’ campaign, are simultaneously criticized when used by Hillary Clinton.
This double standard is often why women are passed over for promotions or fail to thrive in leadership roles. There’s actually an app that prevents women from sounding too much like, well, women. The Just Not Sorry app for Google Chrome functions as a spellcheck of sorts for email to eliminate passive phrases or qualifying words, such as, “just,” “sorry,” and “actually,” to name a few. Slate magazine’s Christina Cauterucci points out in an article that “One reason why women have adopted these ... speech and writing patterns is because, historically, they’ve gotten pushback for appearing too decisive and demanding” (read: just as decisive and demanding as men). As female leaders, we hear we can’t be too direct, too passive, too sexy, or too aggressive, but we rarely hear what we can be.
Without a workplace advocate, it’s often difficult for women to overcome biases and assume leadership positions. But with 57 percent of women in the workforce, it’s the responsibility of the workplace as a whole to provide an inclusive, empowering environment for all employees and clients, regardless of gender. Not only will employees thrive, but sales will increase.
More and more women are accumulating wealth and making decisions, and they want to spend their money with companies that share their values and employ people like them. What does this mean for the remodeling industry? By eliminating the double standard, organizations can create a welcoming workplace and promote growth for both their teams and the bottom line. Here’s how.
Diversity training: Mandated diversity training isn’t the be-all, end-all in eliminating workplace inequality, but it shows an organization’s commitment to equality, and the training can help team members overcome biases they may not even realize they possess. Diversity training programs can also improve recruitment and employee retention, boost morale, and reduce workplace harassment.
Relationship and team building: Authentic relationships are one of the easiest ways to break the gender bias, but developing such relationships can be difficult, especially in historically male-dominated industries. By building meaningful relationships and cohesive teams, the focus is on the individual, followed by their role and minimizing the gender difference.
Workplace perks: Every workplace has benefits outlined in its recruiting materials and employee handbooks, but unspoken perks often exist and tend to favor males. These may include happy hours, which can be a challenge for women with young children at home, or golf outings, etc. Such benefits have the potential to give some staff an advantage or to create undue tension. When developing opportunities for staff bonding, make sure they are accessible to all employees, regardless of gender or interests. At Mosby, we invite all associates to attend management meetings, and we’ve extended an open invitation for any and all associates to join our president for breakfast once a month.
What programs does your company offer to encourage women in leadership?
Kate Ewing is marketing manager for Mosby Building Arts, in St. Louis, and a Professional Remodeler 40 Under 40 winner for 2015.
Read a longer version of this article here.