Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you play a role in advancing workplace equality?” is written by Dennis Yang, CEO of Udemy. There’s been plenty of talk about…

via How Unconscious Bias Is Holding Your Company Back — Fortune

Save

Workplace Inequality and Mean Girls

 

Are we (women) the reason for workplace inequality?

Ok, so let me take you down the rabbit hole for a minute before we get back to that question. The other night I was at the bar with some friends blowing off some steam from a long day of study and work. Right before we left I was victim to that all too familiar “snub” from a woman that I barely know. And it bothered me. It really bothered me. I don’t know why. Maybe because we all want to be “liked”. Maybe because she doesn’t know me well enough to have any valid reason for disliking me. Perhaps if she did (and I had wronged her) I would understand her crinkled nose and side-glaring whispers before the flash of the fake smile and sing-song voice. But it felt as if I was 15 and standing in the hallway of the school watching the “mean girls” crash through the legion of the unlucky. But here’s the thing, we are not 15. WE ARE GROWN ASS WOMEN!!

How could it be that we are treating each other this way? Did we never grow from our childish habits and our “did you see what she’s wearing” tether for approval? This could open up a whole Pandora’s box of reasons why women treat each other this way. Maybe we weren’t loved as children, maybe we read too much Cosmo or stare at too many thigh gaps on pinterest. I don’t even have the time, credentials, or space on my couch to address those questions in this post.

In the end, the problem wasn’t with me.  It was with her.  And the way that she chose to express herself.  When someone acts in that manner it begs the question, “How would this woman act as my colleague?  As my boss? As a leader or a hiring professional?”

My larger concern is one that I hold as a core value. Who you are outside of work is who you are at work. The way you treat people, the way you react under pressure, the way you handle delicate issues. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly let my hair down away from the office but I wouldn’t engage in a behavior at the bar that I wouldn’t be comfortable with my staff knowing. Because here is the thing, well two things: “Attitude is a reflection of leadership” (my fav quote from Remember the Titans) and you never know who is going to end up being your boss or colleague. Not to mention, treating people bad is just wrong.  And IT WILL come back to haunt you.

Now, to circle back through the rabbit hole and address the opening question: If you are acting snarky outside of work how can you convince me that you are not acting snarky at work? And in addition, is this “mean girl” personality or perception truly allowing us to advance in the workplace? I think not. Now, don’t get me wrong… There are a whole slew of other reasons that women are at a disadvantage in the workplace. Many of them are out of our control. And this post is meant in no way to trivialize that.  What I’m talking about here is something we can control. I believe that your success in life develops out of your environment. The harder you work to improve those things within your control, the easier you make your road ahead for the things that you cannot control. And the easier you make the road for those that will follow you.

So, I ask you… are you working to improve your environment or hampering your natural awesomeness with petty ways?