Updated: Feb 3
You would think that gender bias at the workplace is a thing of the past, but sadly it still thrives not just in India, but even in developed countries. And lack of diversity is the root of the problem. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise as just one day in a year celebrates the efforts and contribution women make at the workplace. And we have to agree, one day is not enough! While awareness about this has increased, the change still isn’t as obvious as it should be. Even with women trying to break stereotypes every step in the way, and the management enabling them with bigger responsibilities, the bias hasn’t completely washed away - yet. Women still find their financial and professional growth hampered. What’s even more worrisome is that, instead of the biases going down they’re on the rise and diversity at the workplace still needs to be worked on.
In a society that has dwelled on the fact that women are less powerful from the beginning of time, pulling away from subconscious biases is more difficult. Considering women to be more suitable for domestic chores, or ruling them out when it comes to business trips - are common scenarios even today. Not to mention, that women are paid much less compared to their male counterparts and the glass ceiling is real, given that just about 23% of women work as CEOs, globally. Overall, this bias has been observed even by men across workplaces, according to a recent survey conducted by TeamLease.
Survey Findings Regarding Gender Bias
TeamLease, a Human Resource company that provides staffing solutions and more, recently conducted a survey around gender bias at the workplace which brought ahead many findings. More than 50% of the male employees who took the survey feel that gender bias has in fact increased in the past couple of years. This is even more surprising given that the Maternity Benefits Act too was implemented during this phase. Increase in the amount of gender bias has also been the reason why many women leave the jobs, said 48% of male employees while 54% of them said this discrimination is what pulls women down in their careers. Just when you start to think that at least the scenario is better in terms of providing opportunities, the survey has found that more than 28% men feel that bias happens even at the hiring stage.
Moreover, a general consensus says that unconscious bias is one of the biggest challenges women face when it comes to their professional life. It starts with interviews where women candidates are asked about their families or marital status and judged on the basis of their personal lives. On the other hand, interview discussions with men only revolve around their past professional experiences. Considered to be more family oriented, and domestic even the most deserving women are not promoted or appointed in leadership positions. The same reasons are also why a wide pay gap between men and women exists.
What Has Changed
Not much has changed over the last year as women still fall short in holding prominent leadership roles. While gender bias at the workplace is an increasing problem, there is one thing that has changed, and for the better - it is the perspective that today’s male employees have. Unlike earlier, there is a growing realisation amongst men when it comes to seeing their women colleagues being treated differently. This realisation can go a long way in wiping gender bias off the corporate world and devising a more effective employer branding plan that focuses on diversity.
With Covid-19 having set most employees back, fighting against more than one challenge is going to be tough especially as women have been affected the most. Women have felt like they’ve been always-on during the pandemic, dealing with families and work at the same time. As this has negatively impacted women, it’s possible that the next step they take may be to pause work, given that it is anyway difficult to climb the success ladder while fighting biases.
Women And The 2021 Workplace
Men are beginning to realise how the management is biased towards women at work. Yet, women tend to be one of the most unrecognized sectors of the workforce. This is where corporates need to step in, and help such employees cope with this crisis. Maintaining a welcome and an unbiased culture, that favours diversity, is the need of the hour for every corporate if they do not want to see a high female employee attrition rate - because this could not just mean lost talent, but also work against a corporate’s employer branding efforts. Rather than taking random steps in this direction, having conversations with women and trying to understand what they expect will work better. Whether it is about counselling sessions, training, or a pay surge depends from person to person and hence must be thoroughly thought through. This will also help a workplace be known for developing equal opportunities.
After all, the choices made by corporates today, will be a large stepping stone towards eradicating gender biases - from the workplace as well as from the society in general. Simultaneously, it also increases the diversity rate of the workforce; which positively impacts productivity.