Strategies to improve diversity in the workplace
Updated: Mar 28
To improve diversity, everyone needs to seat at the table
How many International Women's Day (IWD) events did you have available during March in your company or your community? Probably many. If you went to some of these events, how many men did you see around? I bet you didn't need to use all your fingers to count.
Discussions about diversity are usually organized by minorities and for minorities. In the IWD events I went to, the topics ranged from leadership to technology, entrepreneurship and investments and speakers were reputable leaders in Silicon Valley. Such topics are also valuable for men and they could still benefit from networking opportunities. So, why weren't they around?
Target audience is women
I have seen more and more IWD events welcoming men, but majority still targets women. Some women believe that they still need space to discuss issues and support each other and that, exclusive events, groups, associations are the best ways to achieve it.
Men don't feel comfortable discussing about gender inequality
Discussing gender inequality and bias before a large audience on events dedicated to the topic can be intimidating for men if they don't have a formed opinion about the topic. It may be easier for them to have such conversations in 'safe' environments - smaller groups with gender balance.
Redefining diversity discussions
Regardless if men participate in IWD events or not, discussions about gender inequality inside and outside the corporate arena should have equal participation of men and women. Women will just be able to have a seat at the table, achieve equal pay, have career opportunities and the appropriate mentorship if men and women in leadership collaborate for that.
Men also have unconscious bias against women. Sheryl Sandberg mentions in her book Lean In, that men in traditional marriages, with wives working at home, tend to view women in the workplace as less qualified to succeed. This unconscious belief might lead to delays in women's promotions.
It has been proven that diversity improves company's financial results, so this is not only about reputation. All my experiences working with diverse teams leads to creative solutions with great results for the company and clients.
Collaborating to close gaps
To decrease the gender gap in the workplace men and women need to collaborate to decrease bias and change behavior. Women should welcome men to events and discussions, present problems and propose solutions without unnecessary judgement. Men should understand common bias and work hard to minimize its impact on women's career progression. As an example, leaders may consult with peers before deciding on promotions.
Lean In, articles and publications about the topic has changed my perception on gender inequality. I used to believe that, as I have had been treated respectfully and I feel heard in male dominated environments, I probably have had similar opportunities than male colleagues. Now I understand that I face bias quite often, and that may have had delayed my career progress.
As divas, we set trends and redefine standards, so we should encourage collaboration of majorities and minorities to decrease bias and improve diversity in the workplace and in our communities.
What are your thoughts about this topics? How are you doing to improve diversity and inclusion? Leave a comment or tweet @ideasfordivas.