You’re Biased. Now Break It.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme was “Break the Bias”, calling upon us to imagine a gender-equal world, free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. (Imagine!)
We’re asked to take responsibility to build a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive through our thoughts and actions — in communities, in the workplace, in schools, everywhere.
Let’s talk about work for a second. The majority of women experience bias at work — but most bias is hard to recognize, and even harder to address. Bias is an invisible bind that keeps women down.
Breaking the bias is not just for International Women’s Day. It is everyday. And the onus shouldnt solely be on women to break the bias — although it almost always is!
In other words: Stop fixing women and start fixing workplaces!
Our global reality is bias…
All around the world, women and girls are still not able to fully participate in all aspects of social, economic, and political life. They have less choice and less voice — and are further burdened with the responsibility of rectifying this imbalance.
Women are more likely than men to live in extreme poverty. Women’s unemployment is higher than men. Two-thirds of low-wage workers are women — in the informal economy earning next to nothing, and taking great risks to do so.
Women do the majority of unpaid work — 76% of it. And COVID has only made this worse. Women spend between 2 to 10 more hours a day than men caring for children, the elderly or the sick. And when they do paid work, they earn far less than men — in every occupation. The wage gap is real, with women earning 77 cents to every man’s dollar. Add race and other identity markers in, and that gap gets wider. If the pay gap were to close, the world’s GDP could grow by $12 trillion by 2025.
In positions of power and decision-making, inequality is most visible because women are rendered virtually invisible. There is a persistent lack of women in leadership, with women representing just 27% of all managerial positions. And we all know that there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs… Sorry, John, I just can’t accept this.
Women face bias as women — but this is also compounded due to race, class, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, and a range of other identity markers. All of this has been further compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. COVID has taken pre-existing gender inequalities and amplified them. The bias is bigger, and breaking it is even harder.
In the working world, women who were employed before will not likely be able to re-enter the workforce, unless it is the informal economy, with its own risks and lack of protections. This means trafficking of women and girls, sex for food, and sex for rent all increase. Women’s burden of unpaid care increases — again. More girls than boys are helping at home, lagging behind with studying, and dropping out of school. We don’t even know the extent of it, but we do know that right now 129 million girls are out of school.
We’re two years into our new COVID world, and the resulting rise in work-from-home practices has shown we need a greater understanding of personal and professional lives outside the traditional 9–5. There is opportunity for more equitable division of labor and flexible structures. Gendered responses will make things better. Trust me.
This means doing the right thing as individuals and as institutions — because both people and systems need to change if we are going to make change work.
So… What can companies do? And what can you do?!
To read the full growl, go here: https://link.medium.com/wfuCT9Qdqob
Ultimately, biases can be broken, and things can change for the better. We just need to want that change.