Diversity & inclusion5 min read

Five of the most influential women in inclusion tell us how to #BalanceforBetter

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter

Over the last few months, we’ve been privileged to speak with some of the most influential women in inclusion. They shared their views with us on how we can all create a gender-balanced world.

Because, let’s face it. Without change, workforce equality won’t happen until 2234 according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report.

How do we make change happen? We all have a part to play. All the time, everywhere, and especially in the workplace.

Here are five tips from five inspiring women who share their advice on how we can all  #BalanceforBetter.

Beware the glass wall

At the current rate of hiring and promotion, the number of women in management will only increase by one percentage point in the next ten years according to McKinsey.

The Glass Wall – success strategies for women at work and businesses who mean business is a bestseller for a reason.  Authors Kathryn Jacob OBE (CEO, Pearl and Dean) and Sue Unerman (CTO, MediaCom) share tonnes of practical advice on how to help women thrive at work.  

When we spoke to them for the Inclusion Works podcast,Kathryn told us that the idea of The Glass Wall is simply that:

“Men and women are on opposite sides of this glass wall. They can see eachother and they think they’re in the same environment, when they’re not.”

What can you do to elevate the women around you, no matter your or their level of seniority?

Studies show that women are only likely to apply for a new role or promotion when they meet 10/10 of the criteria while men will apply if they meet only 5/10 of the criteria.

And when it comes to reputation, men are more likely to go, “oh yeah, I’m an expert”. Whereas women are more likely to go, “Well I know a lot about it, but would I really call myself an expert in it?”

So to truly support women at work, Kathryn’s advice is to talk to women about what they want. Have 50:50 shortlists of every job and 50:50 interview panels. Look closely at the way you write job specs to take out the words that may only appeal to one type of personality. And according to Sue, the best thing we can do to support women at work is simply not to be a bystander. If you see biased behaviour or something that’s not okay, call it out. It takes all of us to make true change happen.

Check your bias

Unconscious bias creeps into your everyday life and has impact on those around you. And it does it without you knowing because, well, it’s unconscious.

Renowned Harvard academic Iris Bohnet has a solution:

“The root causes of bias include one difficult truth: no one is immune from them… concerted, consistent and continuous action is required.”

So, how do you put unconscious bias into conscious action? In our  digital inclusion toolkit, Kaleidoscope, we’ve curated more than 1,000 leading resources on how to be more inclusive everyday. Here are a few of our favourite, most actionable tips:

Next time you hold a meeting, check yourself. Are your female or minority colleagues being spoken over? Is their contribution being overlooked? If you spot either of these things happening, bring them into the conversation.

When you are delegating work, review who you delegate what to. Are you unconsciously favouring certain colleagues or giving more ‘housekeeping’ style tasks to female or minority colleagues? Be mindful of your delegation style.

Finally, open up the conversation and aim for 360 feedback. A strong feedback culture improves cognitive diversity and can increase growth and innovation. These are all critical traits of high performing and profitable companies.

check your bias

Reframe work-life balance

36% of women feel that taking advantage of work-life balance and flexibility programmes has had negative career consequences a PWC Report shows. 

The Managing Partner for Talent at a leading professional services firm told us about how they were looking at their talent attainment to work out why so many women were leaving. The answer? Work-life balance. They had flexible -working but it wasn’t actually working.

So, the firm re-branded flexible working to agile working. This changed the connotations around traditional flexible working. They made it clear what the agile-working policy was and that it was applicable to everyone.  It opened up a dialogue. What followed was culture change. People began challenging negative behaviours and promoting the positive ones.

This re-branding was a catalyst for change as it kick-started a culture shift.  

Put yourself in her shoes

Stepping into someone else’s shoes can be an eye-opening and powerful exercise. It can help you see how people relate to you when you’re out of your perceived sphere of comfort.

Sereena Abbassi (worldwide head of culture and inclusion at M&C Saatchi) was the latest guest on the Inclusion Works podcast. And according to Sereena, empathy is critical for building inclusion:

“I think it’s about humanizing people. I think, far too often within the corporate world, we dehumanize people without even realizing we’ve dehumanized them, and I think that’s a really easy exercise.”

Whose shoes could you spend a day, an hour, or even five minutes in? Get to know their perspective. Get to know what challenges they face in their role. Get to know about the other elements of their life – all the things that add up and make them human.

Once your eyes are open to other people’s experiences, you will be amazed at what you can learn. Factors that you have been blind to could be having a detrimental effect on someone’s life. Find out how you can change that.

Building empathy in your teams using this simple exercise could help you create a positive change and a more balanced workplace.

And finally, a few words on negotiation…

Women negotiate less than men. 68% of women accept the salary they are offered versus just 52% of men.  

Cindy Gallop is a trailblazer in tech, a former chair of advertising giant BBH and TED Talker. Cindy is breaking taboos around age, gender and with her company – Make Love Not Porn.

One of her most famous pieces of advice for women is this:

“ When asking for a pay rise, the amount you ask for is the highest amount you can say out loud without actually bursting out laughing.”

On equal pay day, Cindy created the ‘Equal Pay Chatbot’. An interactive way women could get advice and strategies on how best to negotiate pay.So, take Cindy’s advice. Negotiate your pay. Her Twitter is full of success stories, will the next one be yours?

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In 2018, 78% of companies prioritised diversity to improve culture and 62% put D&I at the top of their change agenda with the goal of boosting financial performance (LinkedIn Global Trends 2018).

That’s why in 2018, Hive Learning built Kaleidoscope – a mobile toolkit designed to help people be more inclusive every day.

We spoke to hundreds of organisations striving to build a more inclusive culture and curated the most practical, actionable inclusion strategies from over 700 leading sources.

To request access to Kaleidoscope and find out more, click here.

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