- Posted by Janet Zaretsky
- On December 6, 2016
- 0 Comments
When we try to tell someone, we are experiencing bias, especially gender bias, and they are the opposite sex, they often have no idea of what we are talking about. They might say, yes, I understand or try to be sympathetic, but it is really challenging to see the world from another viewpoint.
BuzzFeed did a video that creates a scenario that illustrates it beautifully. It is called “This Is What Is Would Be Like If Men Were Treated Like Women In The Workplace”. Watch it here. This short video, although it features primarily millennial age office workers, demonstrates unconscious bias that I recently wrote about. It is funny, but quite impactful. In one scene, the male co-worker says to a supervisor “If this continues, I am going to be in the same exact position in ten years while all my female colleagues promoted.”, after saying that he doesn’t think they can understand his perspective. Very powerful and highly accurate statement.
This video demonstrates powerfully how the very real bias in behavior, in communication, in action, in failure to take action and ultimately in our viewpoint has real consequences on our careers, let alone our confidence. Every day I read an article, an opinion piece, a study that is demonstrating we are failing to truly diversify our workplaces significantly. In fact, in today’s local newspaper there was an article pointing to the rarity of having female fund managers in the financial sector and another talking about how to increase the number of women and people of color in the tech sector. We are failing to have women represented equally.
The question is, how do we change this? I think, from my experience, coaching numerous women about this topic, it begins with us. We have to start to look from their point of view and speak to what concerns them and what has them see the world, us as colleagues as well as the way they see other male colleagues the way they do. I know when you can get into another person’s view or perspective, and can speak to it, you will get heard. I am not saying this is easy, but I know, from years of experience, it is possible and it is highly effective.
Most people don’t take actions to hurt or diminish another, personally, or in the workplace. They are doing what seems logical for them, given the way they see the world and what they are committed to accomplishing. If you can get into what their logic is, and speak to their logic, they will hear you, you can cause change.
I highly suggest you spend time observing and listening. When you are observing and listening, see if you can let go of your own biases, your own arguing with what is happening or what someone is saying and just listen. The more you listen and observe like this, the more you will be able to see and hear someone else’s logic and see their viewpoint. When you do, speak to it. When you want to get noticed and heard, frame what you are saying in a way that has them hear you and notice you by speaking to their logic.
I know this may be theoretical and a bit challenging to fully grasp, so I will give you an example from the BuzzFeed video. When the man comes into the audition and shakes the hand and acknowledges all the men, and ignores the woman on the video, it is highly likely he did that because he is more comfortable with women. He is likely nervous, as most people are in an audition, and took one action that helped him feel less nervous by bonding with the other men- his comfort zone. If you are the woman, observing and imaging that his logic is for comfort, you can take an action to support his comfort. That might include, speaking to him when he sits down with something comforting or some remark that has him bond with you, as well.
What I described is one possible answer to how do I make a difference in gender disparity, in daily activities. It is not the only or the right answer, but no action, no results. If you want to make a real difference in altering the statistics about gender disparity, I suggest start with looking for your unconscious biases. Then, become a master of observation and listening and take action by speaking from looking at ‘their’ point of view.