Beyond Diversity: Gender Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity & Inclusion

It is no coincidence that when we discuss diverse teams and workplaces, we still end up talking about diversity and inclusion (D&I). While they may seem to be the two sides of the same coin, the distinction between ‘D’ and ‘I’ is critical. If you are recruiting staff from underrepresented communities, like people with disabilities, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ community, etc., you are doing a mighty fine job.

That is not enough, though.

Consider this: Do these people feel like they belong to the workplace, now that they have been hired? Do they feel secure and at ease bringing their whole self to work, or do they feel compelled to conceal their unique characteristics and points of view?

That is why organisational inclusivity is so important. Simply the number of people from underrepresented groups you hire – and checking those boxes – does not mean you have created an equal-opportunity workplace.

Returning to the topic of gender inclusivity in the workplace, do you make accommodations for the soon-to-be or new mothers if your sales team has quotas that include travel? Another example may be the terminology used in business documents or at meetings – is it gender-inclusive or does it make other people in the room feel unwelcome?

Gender inequality in the workplace manifests itself in a variety of ways

It is not just about the wage disparity between men and women. It is not just the sexist remarks during meetings that are offensive. It is not all for like-minded 'bros,' either. All of this, as well as a slew of other habits and prejudices, wreak havoc on the corporate community.

The findings indicate that women do feel left out at work, whether it is because they are being paid less than their male counterparts (or even those with less experience), or that the workplace atmosphere is skewed towards men.

Changes in the law along with global campaigns such as the #MeToo Movement have recently encouraged women and other people from underrepresented communities to speak about workplace discrimination. The story of Riot Games, the video game developer company behind famous games such as "League of Legends," is one recent example, in which current and former employees accused the company of sexism and abuse.

Similar headlines about the lack of real organisational inclusion can be found all over the news. Spotify was sued for equal pay violations in 2018, and Oracle was sued a few months later. However, this is not just a problem for tech firms. Former employees of Nike, have filed litigation alleging pay discrimination, Walmart has been sued for gender discrimination on several occasions, and Disney has also been sued for the same.

Suits including WeWork, Firefighters, the US Women's National Team, and others have been added to the list. This proves that we are not dealing with isolated events. It is also evident (and a positive sign) that workers are comfortable enough to file complaints. But, of course, you do not want to be in the role of the boss in the first place. It is not only costly, regardless of whether you are found guilty or not, but also damaging to your employer's brand and overall credibility, particularly if the business goes public. So, before anything happens, you will want to get ahead of it. Consider what you can do to avoid getting to this stage.

Inclusion Necessitates: An assessment of fact

Let's face it: diversity seems to be more readily quantifiable at the first glance. You can keep track of how many people from underrepresented communities the organisation recruits, hires, and promotes. You can track how these statistics shift over time, how they vary by department, and whether any proactive diversity-inspired initiatives you implement have had a positive effect.

Workplace inclusion, on the other hand, has fewer quantifiable indicators. You could easily monitor, evaluate, and fix any wage disparities between men and women. You might enact anti-harassment laws, which are not difficult to monitor. But how do you spot and fix sexist conduct that is not so obvious? According to the TrustRadius survey, 71% of women have worked in a tech company where the ‘bro’ culture is prevalent. That is not a figure to be taken lightly. It may be a good idea to take a look at your own business culture and see if you help – or do not support – women in the workplace.

The first step in improving D&I is to lift your consciousness. To put it another way, if you do not have diverse teams, you would not be able to create products or provide services that cater to a wide audience. You are passing up chances to solve problems and expand your company.

That brings us to the second step: Perception. You now understand the importance of diversity, but how diverse is your company? If you look internally at how your teams are built, how you make strategic choices, and whether your workplace offers equal opportunity to all workers, you will find the stuff.

If you discover that you are not as diverse as you should be, the third step is to make a decision: To make internal changes to improve diversity.

Step #4, Review, goes hand in hand with this. You should not just look at the numbers at the surface stage.

Then you should move on to phase #5, which is taking steps to promote equality in the workplace. By contrast, ‘bros' are unable to understand or identify the ‘bro’ culture. They cannot repair it either. A fish, to use a simple metaphor, has no idea that it is in water.

Similarly, you are not sure if your female coworker is feeling left out at work. Since she has experienced sexism, bullying, and bigotry in the workplace, she is the one who knows what it looks and sounds like. However, it is your responsibility as an employer to create an atmosphere in which she feels empowered to speak up.

Perhaps, you believe your company's culture is welcoming. However, the only way to be certain is to ask those who are typically impacted by discrimination. You might believe that avoiding a conversation makes a group of people feel less excluded. That, however, is not the same as deliberately including certain individuals in the debate.

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