It’s International Women’s Day. Women’s day should be every day really. For many years, numerous studies about discrimination at work on the basis of gender and ethnic origin have been carried out. Recently, researchers have looked at other vulnerable groups, such as people who perform menial or strenuous tasks, people who work unsocial hours, etc. I noticed this for a while now, in different countries I worked in, which frustrated me. Some may roll their eyes up here and dismiss these findings but hear me out; this affects millions of people. We all know someone that gets ignored or has fallen through the cracks at work.
One particular story that frustrated me very much was from a legal assistant who had 2 degrees behind her and is extremely intelligent. When she asked her manager if she could do a course relevant to her work, she was refused. This wasn’t the first time. She’s been snubbed several times. Why? I don’t think managers do this on purpose. It’s a bias that’s been in the workplace forever. Perhaps they see her as “just” the admin.
But the problem here is that it is the women who carry out the most mundane jobs in the workforce. They work so hard for the business, but others more senior may see their jobs as menial. When their managers don’t allow them to progress forward (for some bizarre reason), they start to question their capabilities and lose confidence in themselves and the system. They wonder why they aren’t relevant or “smart” enough to take on such a course. These roadblocks, however, leave people without the development critical for their career success.
People and companies can talk all they want about women “leaning in” and becoming more assertive, and stepping up. But the only way people can progress is when they are allowed to do so. We all have to start in entry-level and junior positions when we start on the career ladder. I have often seen workplaces become toxic, unfriendly, and compartmentalised, causing many rifts among colleagues. So what can leaders of the business do. Challenge the Norm.!
#Challenge the Norm
While most of us were hiding behind closed doors waiting for COVID to go, those who do the mundane work are out there keeping our communities safe. So why shouldn’t we treat them with a much greater respect? Oprah Winfrey put it best to her friend Gayle King when she said, “I think now, more than ever, I will not look at people who do the so-called “menial jobs the same again or the so-called grunt work.” You got that right, Oprah. Our future generation wants a together society where everyone, including the under-represented groups, gets access to their fair share of opportunities. Otherwise, the inequality gap will keep rising.
So how can you play your part to make small changes? How can business owners build a strong employer brand that stands out and attracts the right people, and retains them?
We first need to stamp out our biases towards those who do the daily mundane jobs day in day. The key should be a shift in mindset toward people’s roles and their job positions.
- We need to understand that putting people first regardless of their duties and empowering them to find purpose in their roles and careers will help grow any business and become a thriving success.
- Human Resource Managers can reduce these biases by creating a healthy and inclusive environment through training for everyone programs, diversity policies, etc. When you allow people to grow, they do better, learn better, behave better, feel better and help the business better.
- Managers can lookout for those who don’t have a voice or are starting their career. Some groups from start-ups to small enterprises may not even have a budget for training. If you can’t give them a physical mentor, you can help kick-start ideas by providing a library of self-development books. It’s a start. That is why I wrote the book “No Limits”. Something parents or managers can happily give when people are starting on their career journey.
- Remember, the greatest gift you can give to others is sharing knowledge. HR and Management have a responsibility to develop every team member to their greatest potential. Bad managers will continue to flourish if we don’t make some serious changes.
There’s a lot of talks, a lot of seminars, but tiny action. Companies will undoubtedly come out from under a rock on certain days like International Women’s day, Diversity and Inclusiveness Day or Admin day but then very quickly go back to their old innate ways. Don’t let this be you. Don’t just talk about it. Be about it. Make history. Make the change.
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