Women, here’s how you can fight gender bias in Sales!
Gender bias still exists, and you know, it is not our fault. Most societies have been patriarchal right from the beginning, and their misogynist norms have been handed down generation after generation and implemented to such an extent that it is almost like people are born with these conventions in their minds.
Even though there has been an awakening and ‘gender equality’ has been getting aggressive support since the last five decades, the old mindset just manifests itself somewhere or the other without us realizing it.
An individual can make a discriminatory gesture, without even intending to. To make sure that nothing even remotely comes off as sexist, we need to consciously look through our actions and decisions twice before implementing them. And honestly, no one can put in so much effort. As a majority-women team, we realize that and so the need for crafting this article.
5 kinds of Biases
Before we move on to the fight techniques, let’s classify the kinds of biases that you might have faced in your workspace. According to Lean In, there are five kinds of biases that appear in the working environment.
1. Performance Bias
As the name suggests, performance bias is an assumption about the abilities men and women can display in their work. Like in the overall setting, women are underestimated, which means they need to work more to prove themselves. It also affects their hiring probability.
Many professions have unclear hiring criteria, which leaves the hiring officer or board to be inclined to their personal preferences, leaving lower career opportunities for women.
2. Attribution Bias
Attribution bias is somewhat a result of performance bias. The assumption that women do not have as much potential as a male, they tend to receive lesser acknowledgment for their work and are often scapegoats for the failure of a project, even when there are men working on the same project.
Their contributions are given the same treatment, so it pushes them to achieve higher standards to restore their self-confidence.
3. Likability Bias
Everyone wants to be liked, and for women, more so because the workplace is already challenging. But this is a lose-lose situation that they face. We tend to associate women with likable and kindly qualities. If they go past this and are direct or assertive, they become aggressive, bitchy, and unlikeable.
On the other hand, if they are accommodating and agreeable, they are deemed as less competent and people-pleasing. This double game makes it really difficult to work effectively.
4. Maternal Bias
The very foundation of biases, maternal bias arises from the assumption that once women are mothers-to-be, they are bound to pay lesser attention to their professional life than their personal. Mothers are also less likely to be hired or given assignments that require dedication, for the simple fact that they have children, who would be the center of attention, instead of the work assignments.
5. Affinity Bias
Affinity bias is really a part of a human being, it is natural and there is hardly anything one can do for this. It means that we are more likely to favor someone who is like us, in any way possible. This also means that we are less likely to put the effort into knowing someone who holds a different opinion.
As a result, when men are in higher positions, they are likely to favor men over women. Affinity bias is also one reason that women in the workplace feel more comfortable with a female mentor.
How to Tackle it
Now that we are somewhat familiar with the kinds of biases that characterize the workplace, we can move ahead on ways to tackle the same.
1. Do Not Hesitate to Speak Up
Yes, it is easy for me to be writing these words here, and it is very difficult for you to say something, anything when you have already endured whatever discriminatory action or gesture had taken place. But you have to remember that in a workplace, people are supposed to be treated equally, and for that, you will have to say something. You are going to speak up for yourself and maybe your colleagues who haven’t had the courage to say anything.
If you think it was a co-worker who just absent-mindedly said something, take it up with them directly, and tell them that it offended you. Maybe it will solve the whole problem. If there are beliefs or a mindset with your superiors or the general work environment, take it up with HR. Addressing issues is empowering in itself, and even if there is just a slight change, people will know that you are confident in yourself.
2. Look at Yourself How You Want Others To
When you are working in a company that may or may not be dominated by men, there are some situations where you feel suppressed. Like being interrupted during a presentation, like being given the corner, or not having a chance to speak. In these situations, you have to take an initiative and deliberately empower yourself.
Understand your position in the team and why you are important to them. It is a general notion that women try to take on everything, then end up being overworked. Learn to say no when there is something assignment not matching your skill-set. Believe it or not, women do tend to be people-pleasers to get noticed (not your fault but the performance bias), and that gives people a different view of you. Show them that you are a badass and you don’t take shit.
3. Make Allies
No one advances in the corporate world without a mentor or friends backing them up. You might encounter a client who is prone to addressing men exclusively, and you can team up with the moderator of the meeting to get some questions re-directed to you.
It is the responsibility of everyone to at least make an effort to empower people around us, including everyone in the discussion, but this often goes unnoticed and ignored. Confide in people who you know have your back. They will not only help you succeed but will also be there to help you stand up again.
For The Employers
As much as you say you’ve combed through your company’s policies and public announcements, there has to be something in there preventing you from achieving a good gender equality score. Did you know that job criterion and recruitment processes have inherent gender bias that affects women in every phase of the career? Maybe you didn’t and maybe you did but did not do anything about it.
Here’s what your plan should be – go through your recruitment, training, and hiring processes all over again and see if there is anything that can potentially deter female candidates. Take in more women in leadership roles, double-check your discrimination policies and diversify your Board. Dig very very deep into the payments and benefits schemes, normalize maternity leaves for women (and stop shaming men for that) and take surveys or collect data to know the ground situation.
But before that, admit to yourself that you have overlooked these aspects and surrendered to gender biases. Create a merit-based work culture in your company and encourage everyone to do better, irrespective of who they are. Because they are just as human as you are.
When women succeed, they will take everyone with them. If you leave her behind, you will also be left behind. Let’s hope the future holds more promises and actual changes for the benefit of women which they should have been given ages ago.
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