How men can avoid marginalizing women in the workplace


By EmployDiversity

Propositions, condescending behaviour, lack of recognition, and sexist comments are just a few of the ways that men marginalize women in the workplace. Male colleagues and superiors are guilty of these behaviours, either consciously or subconsciously.

Men need to be aware of these behaviours because the marginalization of women is not only ethically wrong, it’s also bad for business. A less diverse workforce does not achieve the same success as a diverse one due to a lack of engagement, creativity, and innovation. Understanding how to work successfully with and for women is not only essential for workplace relationships, but also the individual professional success of men. If you’re guilty of marginalizing your female colleagues, it will be harder to succeed.

Most men are not intentionally marginalizing women. Their actions are based on their unconscious biases, which they often have no insight into. To bring it to their attention, things like unconscious bias training are needed in the workplace. However, here are some simple ways that men can avoid marginalizing women at work:

  1. Refer to your female colleagues in the same manner that you’d refer to your male counterparts. Terms that could be perceived as affectionate should not be used. “Sweetie” or “honey” are never appropriate at work.

  2. If you’re making compensation decisions, pay women what they’re worth. A woman performing the same job as a man should command the same compensation.

  3. Be aware of microaggressions that target women. Referencing a woman’s ‘time of the month’, questioning her relationship status, or suggesting that she won’t return to work after maternity leave are offensive and marginalizing comments.

  4. Women can be more socially accommodating and warm than men, but don’t assume that you should overshare personal details or expect her to. Understand the line between business and pleasure and don’t cross it. You should also never take a woman’s silence as acceptance. A non-reaction is not necessarily a positive one and could result in an uncomfortable working relationship and a potential harassment investigation.

  5. Be cautious when giving compliments. There is a fine line between compliments and flirting. Don’t assume that women want anything from you aside from a constructive working relationship unless they have otherwise made it explicitly clear.

Eliminating the marginalization of women in the workplace is an essential part of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. To do this, men need to acknowledge their unconscious biases and rewire how they interact with women. An equalization of men and women in the workplace will create a more harmonious work environment and one that is healthier and more productive for the company and its employees.

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