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5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Overcome Workplace Discrimination

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At present, gender equity across workplaces remains insufficient in the UK. Furthermore, data on today’s labour force found that women in the UK continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles. One of the leading barriers that women have to contend with is workplace discrimination, specifically, blatant sexism. To illustrate, Amanda Blanc, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Aviva Plc, explains that although she’s risen to a managerial level, this has led to an increase in sexist encounters with her male colleagues.

Apart from that, in the 2022 Reykjavik Index for Leadership survey, only 47 % of respondents across G7 nations say they’re comfortable working under a female leader. Despite the survey mentioning the importance of eradicating bias against women business leaders, it is equally crucial to overcome workplace discrimination. Below are a few ways this can become possible:

1. Build a culture of mentorship

Recently, our post ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ mentions that to succeed professionally, women have to build a culture of mentorship. Mentorship not only enables the exchange of ideas, it can also offer support amongst female employees amidst workplace discrimination. On that note, make sure you are someone your subordinates can approach in times of need. For instance, if they wish to learn about a particular work task to boost their competence, tell them not to hesitate to ask you. Mentorship can help enhance one’s skill set, at the same time, it can spark a sense of community that female employees need in the workplace.

2. Encourage employee involvement

Jumping off from the last point, mentorship alone isn’t enough to overcome workplace discrimination. Reporting instances of discrimination is vital to minimise how frequently it occurs. This is why you should involve your employees in the process. Of course, some female workers may be conscious of airing out their experiences in the open. One recourse you can provide is an anonymous channel. This way, your employees can safely share their case and you can gather more honest feedback. This also allows you and your employees to unpack any negative feelings about discrimination together.

3. Be your own advocate

No one knows your strengths better than you do. Even though you hold a managerial position, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from having your work overlooked, or worse, undermined. Sharing your successes with your management is one of the best ways to gain recognition. Likewise, you can also speak to your director about the future goals you wish to achieve in the company. For example, arrange a meeting if you want to familiarise yourself with another department to broaden your knowledge. By being your own advocate, you can talk about your performance which will help you rise above any workplace discrimination that looks to undermine your work.

4. Raise ideas actively

Raising your ideas actively can help establish a more confident and reliable image. This is especially crucial among women who may not always be physically present. In a Guardian article on remote working, it found that women in managerial roles are put at a disadvantage by working from home. Jane, a manager in the hospitality sector included in the aforementioned article, said that less time spent in the office means she can’t engage with her peers in professional settings as much. She also feels that this hurts her chances of further advancing in her career, especially as her male counterparts don’t need to worry about responsibilities such as childcare. That being said, one tip that can increase your presence is to speak more during meetings you’re part of. Whether in-person or through a zoom call, make sure to provide valuable input. This can be as simple as offering feedback on a coworker’s idea or asking relevant questions about a specific project. In doing so, you can showcase that you have the competence to lead your team.

5. Share personal anecdotes

Historically, workplaces have mostly been dominated by men. And as a BBC article demonstrated, any exception to the norm can generate distrust. One way you can resolve this is by engaging in interpersonal talks. For one, you can share personal anecdotes on non-work topics, such as a vacation trip you recently took. You can also ask your colleagues if they have any memorable trips of their own. Aside from that, consider recommending a great book or a current workout playlist you’ve been loving. These conversations may not seem much, but they can break the ice and reduce any lingering feelings of doubt about workplace leadership.

Specially written for IMLOVINGME.net

By: Rebecca Janine


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