Gender Bias – You Must See It to Believe It. How Will You?

Posted on Posted in Diversity, Gender Bias, Gender Equity

 

25 years ago, NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope. Before that, scientists had ideas about what was going on in space but with little proof. It was a morass of galaxies, stars, and darkness. But the telescope has changed theories, confirmed theories and opened up minds. In essence, we learned because we now had the data.

When it comes to how to get more women into senior leadership, most organizations are operating in the dim universe. They can’t see anything and have no idea of what to look at or even where to start.

How can you get telescope clarity? A gender audit is like the Hubble – it enables you to see. A gender audit uses surveys, interviews and data analysis to understand where in your organization gender biases are hidden and the impact on the business.

Without the audit, what do you see? Biases embedded in the current processes are hidden. You simply don’t know about them, but they show up in all sorts of different ways. Here are few examples of what we’ve seen:

  • How fast women are being promoted v. men. When we ask organizations whether they have a gender problem, we hear a range of answers: there’s not a problem, there’s a huge problem, I have no idea, maybe. We hear, well there aren’t enough women available, or look, we have lots of women.
  • How hiring decisions are made. Hiring decisions are often done ad hoc in operational silos. How these decisions are made is often not visible.
  • Who gets asked to do a stretch role. We hear from a lot of women that they are not asked for stretch roles unless they raise it. The lack of upward movement is then disguised as an individual problem (i.e. she doesn’t want it).
Hidden problems. Hidden universe.

When you do an audit, what do you see? Ah, now there’s clarity.

  • How fast women are being promoted v. men. The audit can define the velocity rate of promotion so that there is a clear comparison. It can also define how perceptions differ (or not) between men and women and other diverse categories. Data can highlight immediately that the problem is in a particular department and not in another so that the subsequent action plan can focus on the specific area of challenge.
  • How hiring decisions are made. The audit very quickly pinpoints the process by area and identifies where potential areas of bias have crept in. For example, we often see unclear and inconsistent criteria or decisions made predominantly on “gut”.
  • Who gets asked to do a stretch role. The audit pinpoints gaps in the decision-making processes which typically points to where the challenges are.

Without the audit, the patterns and biases are hidden. The audit makes the invisible visible, And when you see patterns, you can address them. Out of the mono-view of a giant mass of people and processes, you can begin to formulate a very clear way-forward strategy that addresses the specific areas of challenge rather than continuing to make assumptions about what you see.

 


By evaluating key performance indicators within eleven gender equity performance areas, our gender equity audit process will uncover unconscious bias and barriers within your organization’s systems. A resulting scorecard will tailor solutions to address the root problems, determining opportunities to improve your organization’s competitive advantage by attracting, retaining and engaging talented women. Contact us to learn more.

 

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