If you haven't been sleeping under a rock lately, then you have heard about the "GOOGLE" anti-Diversity Manifesto issued by one of their male Engineers
I couldn't believe my eyes after reading it, it made me sick to my stomach, angry and somehow hurt, and I couldn't help but wonder if we are actually in the 21st century, and in the United States of America! .
This is almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Damore in his manifesto shared his belief that women in tech are underrepresented because they are biologically different (DUH!) causing women to have less tolerance to stress, less ambition and less drive to status.
Oh! And women have a uterus
I thought I had heard it all, being part of the Diversity circles, but this one is over the edge. In a matter of damage control Google CEO “Pichai, in his note to employees, said Damore had crossed a line, though he supports employees’ rights to vocalize dissent.
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,”
What is mind boggling is that many have been defending “Damore” which shouldn’t be surprising in the current political environment we live in. His manifesto is becoming left and right wing issue, as a freedom of speech issue (Freedom of speech protects people from Government not employers- this is another huge discussion for another day) pushing diversity and mainly inclusion years behind; it is like all the progress we have made is slipping back into a dark abyss
I was surprised to read an article that even contented that “Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behavior”,, that sought to prove that no matter what there will never be 50/50 male/female ratio in STEM.
Even if true, what about all the other industries where men are considered “taking charge of matters” and the women “taking care of families”, what about in-equality pay presumed to be 75 cents on the dollar for female employees compared to their male counterparts with same qualifications, education and talent
The Gender Gap in leadership represents a significant missed opportunity for business. It is not about Affirmative action, it is not a politically correct thing, and it is not a leftist movement.
It is predicted that in the year 2020; 50% of the work force will be females, though according to “Korn Ferry” study for Female Presentation in C-suite positions, found that the most senior post is held by the smallest percentage of women, with only 5 percent serving as CEO. This percentage remains flat from 2015, with less 1 percent of CEOs in the life sciences industry are women.
While CFO positions: Only 12 percent of CFOs across industries are women, the least female CFOs are financial and life sciences at 9 percent.
These trends tell us that women, a highly skilled source of leadership talent, are being overlooked to the detriment of business. In the era of global competition for talent, the best Talent Male or Female) should be sought to give a competitive advantage over those that only rely on only men to fill top positions. Many organizations have fallen short of their goals.
Why am I surprised when we live in an environment where women are judged by their looks, age, and level of energy, what they wear and their body type.
Let’s take a step back and review the concept of Gender Equality
Gender Equality involves the concept that all human beings (men and women) are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles, prejudices, or unconscious Bias. Gender equality means that the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favored equally.
Gender Equality does not mean that women and men should become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.
As always, I chose to see a silver lining around the clouds, I am grateful that this incident no matter how hurtful – has brought the gender diversity, gender equality issue front and center, and generated a dialogue sometimes ugly but a dialogue nonetheless
I still believe that the “Boys clubs” still exist though not as much as a movement exists to resist them.
I have my own views about the “glass ceiling”; I believe that the glass ceiling is actually a myth. “We women can build our own building and have our own roof”; but most of the challenges we are going through as women is “Unconscious Bias ” towards female from males and from females as well.
The role of Unconscious Bias:
“Unconscious Bias” is the very fundamental way we look at the world around us to make sense of it. We make decisions about others based on what feels safe, familiar, likeable, valuable and competent to us without even realizing it.
Bias is an inflexible positive or negative conscious or unconscious belief about a particular category of people. Our Bias kicks in whenever we have a perception of threat to our own survival or a threat to our physical or property safety, identity or sense of being
Because of Unconscious bias there is a dismissive attitude to women irrespective of how women present themselves, that means that organizations are missing out on hiring or promoting exactly what they need to drive equality through
Women Leadership is better suited to meet the challenges of an increasingly people-centered environment, but executive leadership (mainly males) mean to attract, recruit and promote those who look like them, think like them, behave like them: “In-group” Unconscious Bias
Unconscious Bias causes:
Women to be seen as “Caregivers”, as mothers and spouses with family responsibilities that will prevent them from moving upward
Perceptions of women inability to network especially after work hours, or mix with the boys for drinks
Men seen as the only or the main “Bread Winners” of the household
Assertive Women Leaders to be either considered “B****” or expected to be men in dresses. The participative Women Leaders are too soft or too weak
Assumption that if a woman is successful it is because of a man not her own merits
Outdated succession planning or lack of them; and career development systems
Frequent traveling, or relocations because of a job will cause a women to turn down a position or a promotion
Women entering the workforce have "strong residuals" about the value of female talent as compared to male talent
As women we do not fight back as we should
We try not to attract attention, we try to take the smallest space around us, we keep our voices down, we get interrupted and do not push back, we always use “I Just” which diminishes any words after it and strips us from any power.
We are afraid to negotiate our salaries, we are afraid to contradict opinions in meetings so we won’t be seen as troublemakers.
We do not complain when we are not considered for a promotion that we know we deserve because our boss never gave us the choice, assuming we will turn it down because it involves a lot of travel
We do not speak up when we are not considered for “Mentoring programs” while our male colleagues are put on the fast track, we do not ask to be considered for the big projects that will put our names on the map.
We do not demand a seat on the table, we do not voice our requests and needs, and most importantly we shy away from branding ourselves properly and do not know how to claim and own with pride our achievements or being unapologetic about who we are.
Sometimes as Women we create our own chains that hold us down, create boxes that we imprison ourselves in, preventing us from using our strengths and talent or preventing us from seeing the possibilities.
The challenges Women meet as a Gender
The truth is that there are 3 levels of challenges
Societal: Limited educational opportunities and bias against women
Internal Structure: Corporate practices; management shortcomings like outreach, recruiting and retaining female talents. Organizational Cultures that exclude women in participating in activities that will lead to advancement such as career development assignments, mentorship and management training
Governmental: Inconsistent enforcement of Equal Opportunity Employment laws, and poor collection and distribution of reports and statistics that showcase the problems
What can we do?
"Gender Equality is not just a “women’s issue” but a societal one."
That is why we need to engage the “Men” as part of the discussion to be an ally to women as well as advocate and sponsors to women
Some men are totally oblivious to the gender disparity in the workplace, or have fear to lose status, or being ridiculed or considered soft and mushy, some do not get involved as it doesn’t touch them.
Solutions to overcome Gender Unconscious Bias
So here are solutions to overcome the Gender Unconscious Bias, it has to come from all sides no one group can do it alone we all need to come together to be inclusive and accepting. I will keep talking about these solutions till I am blue:
Change organizations cultures
Women to learn how to brand themselves properly, project their leadership skills knowing how they are perceived
Engage the men
A- Organizations: Change the culture of the organization
Offer flexibility at the workplace for parents; and elderly care-takers especially women
Offer leadership training that is not bias towards male leaders
Have proper succession plans, including the proper assessments for female leaders, career development and training
Offer proper coaching, mentoring and sponsoring for promising female leaders
Research the acceptable work practices that can help women advance to senior positions instead of hindering them
Monitor the selection process of people for high visibility projects that can enhance a career
Offer incentive education reimbursement for masters and doctorates programs for women
Have zero tolerance for stereotyping and discrimination against women – strong HR policies and departments are a great asset.
Have proper progressive performance evaluations and constructive feedback
B- Women Leaders:
Project their brands, and skills properly and assertively with confidence
Empower each other by forming and joining ERG and affinity groups to make their voices heard and to name the barriers and bias they might experience
Engage with the organizations in effective initiatives to change the organization's cultural barriers
Get rid of the “Glass Ceiling” excuse or as a fate defining issue, or fall under the self-fulfilling prophecy to justify why they are not advancing. Acting as a victim is debilitating, we become what we work for.
Strategize a plan for your career: Plan properly for your S.M.A.R.T. goals, know what is needed to advance, get the required qualifications as education or certification or mentoring,
Stand for themselves and speak-up; prevent others from assuming or trying to perceive their styles, competencies and abilities
Ask for feedback from managers or superiors, colleagues that they trust; take their comments into consideration as we are what we do – our actions, verbal and non-verbal communications and behaviors affect how we are perceived. Never get defensive
Study and research what is needed as knowledge, skills and abilities needed to advance. It is fine to ask for help, seek coaching in areas identified as vulnerable
Knowing that it will not be easy, or comfortable, they will need to adapt to many changes along the way, get out of their comfort ones but who said life was easy? Look at career as being an adventure along the life journey
C- Engage the “Men”
Increase their awareness through education on the existence of Gender Bias and Unconscious Bias
Fight Apathy by showing how gender bias is affecting them and what they get to gain from helping equality
Train them on Unconscious Bias
Explain how they can be champions of change
Appeal to their sense of fairness
I say it is about time that more women break through to leadership and bring their skills, range of talent, knowledge and insight and get recognized for them. Diversity brings broad and more profound solutions to any organization.
So let us all embrace Diversity, not because it is politically correct, but because it is the right thing to do for business
Let us stand together to end discrimination and disparity in all forms and shapes, love conquers hate. Let us start getting comfortable in uncomfortable settings, let us start that unconformable dialogue, which might not be pretty at times, but a necessity to move forward. We need to remember to "RESPECT" each other no matter how different we are.
Acceptance is about accepting that there are differences and doesn't mean agreeing with different values or beliefs, just accept that they are different and respect that.
Let us accept each other's' diversity and not simply tolerate it, let us value people for who they are not who owe want then to be
This is not a RA RA speech, this is not a kumbaya song, this is the base of humanity and human beings being HUMAN.
If you want to continue the Dialogue respectfully, please do that, I welcome the diversity of thoughts even opposite ones as long as it done respectfully coming from a good place of love and desire to come together rather than hate
Diversity starts at home,
Diversity starts at home,
What do you think? Let me hear what you have to say with respect-
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Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC
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