If You’re Gonna Talk the Talk, You Gotta Walk the Walk—How to Minimize Gender Bias
Gotcha there, didn’t I? You thought I was going to relate the secret of the universe there for a second, right? Sorry! No.
What I can tell you is that there are specific actions that corporate employers can take to promote gender diversity in the workplace, and, minimize the risks of liability due to inherent bias and gender discrimination.
Women in the Workplace 2016, which you can read in full here, is the recent study published by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company concerning the state of women in the workplace in corporate America.
I read the well-researched study last week, and guess what? The news seems bleak.
The study states two general findings: first, on average, companies hire and promote women at lower rates than men, so far less women remain on the path to leadership; and second, fewer and fewer women are becoming CEOs. The authors explain that although companies express firm commitment to gender diversity, they tend not to consistently enforce gender equality policies, and their employees tend not to implement corporate gender diversity initiatives.
But…all is not lost!
Four concrete steps
The LeanIn and McKinsey authors convey four concrete steps that companies can take to support and advance their diversity efforts, leading to a more balanced workplace as well as, I think, a minimized risk of sex discrimination claim:
- Make a compelling case for gender diversity. Tell your employees why gender diversity is so important and how it benefits the entire company. And, as we’ve said time and time again, senior leaders play a key role. Gender diversity, like gender discrimination, trickles down from the top. How can you do this? Have open, candid conversations about it, and be transparent about your gender metrics.
- Ensure the fairness of hiring, promotions, and reviews. Have a strong policy promoting gender diversity and implement it, filtering out any inherent bias where you find it. One example suggested by the study is to conduct blind résumé reviews to reduce any chance of gender bias.
- Employee training. As I emphasized here and here, training is everything! Does Tom Brady or Peyton Manning go out on the field at the start of football season without extensive training? No.
Did Simone Biles dominate women’s gymnastics this summer without training? No, again.
You get my point. The most extensive, thorough, and well-intentioned policies serve no purpose if you do not train your supervisors, managers, vice-presidents, and every single person on the food chain about gender diversity and prohibiting gender discrimination. Bias training for hiring and performance reviews are sorely needed.
- Focus on accountability and results. Use targets to set goals for hiring, promotions, and equal pay.
So, if you’d like more engaged employees and a more gender diverse workforce, try out this plan. LeanIn’s study shows that employees are more likely to believe they have equal opportunities and are more engaged when their leaders are held accountable for improving gender diversity, when managers engage in more objective (and therefore fair) means of hiring and promoting, and when managers and leaders create a more inclusive environment.
We’ve given you the roadmap—all you have to do is follow it.