5 Starting Points for Women, Ethnic Groups to Fight Workplace Bias

Progressive views and education have brought promising opportunities for women and minorities professionally. While many of these groups currently enjoy less discrimination in the workplace compared to the older workforce generation, diversity and inclusion remains to be one of the most pressing issues people face in the business realm today. 

The World Bank Organization states that an estimated 2.4 billion women of working age are not presented with equal economic opportunities. Moreover, 178 countries’ legislation maintains barriers that prevent women from fully participating economically. At this year’s International Women’s Day, the theme was #BreakTheBias. It pushed for a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in the workplace. 

Even economic powers such as Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and European countries have still yet to reach levels of inclusion that don’t face harsh criticism.

In the EU, little attention is given to performance-based payment which contributes greatly to gender disparity in the region. One reason why women were receiving less performance-based payments is the fact that women are more likely to work in positions where performance-based benefits aren’t included. 

Japan, albeit a global influence, has deep-rooted gender disparities in the workplace. According to data compiled by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, women were shown to have two peaks for hours worked while men only had one peak. 

Though data reveals that 70% of Japanese male workers worked for 8 hours or more – a stark contrast against female workers at 30%, this was due to women having to settle for employment on a non-regular basis mostly to find time for household chores.

It’s not safe to conclude though that the business world has not seen major events unfold to tackle diversity and inclusion. It definitely has, and it’s flowing in the right direction.

Mercer in its Let’s Get Real About Equality: When Women Thrive 2020 Global Report, observed a much more narrow gap between women’s and men’s hiring, promotion, and turnover rates in the workplace even before the pandemic. 

The asset management firm stresses that while things are looking up, we’re still decades away from women achieving 50% representation in the workplace, and the COVID-19 has slowed down this progress. 

Another impediment to this progress are hidden biases found within the company. Mercer elaborates that hidden biases should be differentiated from unconscious bias. 

Unconscious bias is the tendency for humans to show favor toward people or groups based on learned stereotypes while hidden bias is stemmed from problems in systems and processes. It identifies that hiring, succession planning, and performance management are the three main areas where women are likely to become victims of hidden biases.

With that said, Mercer provides steps that companies can take to determine biases and identify how they can eliminate them through these 5 starting points.

1. Examine and track representation data

Advanced tracking can help businesses identify whether gender disparities exist in the organization. At a global scale, just 28% of organizations review gender differences and performance ratings and 44% examine employee engagement surveys by gender. The numbers should signal HR and global mobility leaders to execute strategies to break these hidden biases through examining data, assessing what works or not, and making necessary changes to processes and programs. The use of internal labor market maps can also help businesses visualize talent flows within the organization and use them as a basis to take on diversity and inclusion challenges.

2. Boost reporting and transparency

Mercer’s Let’s Get Real report discovered that half of the respondents are not publicly documenting their commitments to gender equality. Collective effort to become more transparent with each organizations’ endeavors to achieve gender equality will spark change in the business world.

3. Build a balanced talent pipeline

Companies can use statistical analysis to derive insights on how to effectively manage female talent from attraction down to career progression. This can help build more robust talent pipelines by setting the cornerstone to determine what steps companies need to take from historical data.

4. Determine gender parities in performance management

Performance management processes are potential hosts to hidden biases. Without communicating well-defined performance management processes to managers, gender and racial disparities will remain a possibility. Leverage management training as an effort to mitigate these disparities.

5. Integrate DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) technology solutions

DEI technology was discovered to be a potential disruptor to the biases that hide in the organizations’ systems. When used correctly, businesses can make a sound judgment on what strategies to take in response to signals coming from these tools.

Yes, we’re still decades away from reaching levels of gender equality – and minorities’ inclusion for that matter – that we can take pride in. But the steps mentioned by the firm can expedite the process. When businesses take notice of others’ achievements in DEI, there’s a high chance they will follow suit.