Could you be discriminating against certain staff in your workplace without even realising it? It’s not something that many of us would like to think still happens in today’s supposedly more equal world. But even the most well-meaning of us can still fuel discrimination through certain unconscious workplace biases; we explore this in our business breakfast session Unconscious Bias.
The sad truth is that we aren’t always as logical as we’d like to think and this can make a big difference to, for example, someone of a certain gender, age or ethnic background gaining a promotion. Our business breakfast session on unconscious bias will introduce you to this concept and the power that it can have in the workplace.
We’ll give you an example of what we mean. Sheryl Sandberg – the Facebook chief operating officer who we have mentioned on this blog before – and Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, wrote an article for The New York Times back in February, entitled Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee.
In it, the authors cite the example of a female manager who volunteered her time quicker than her male colleagues and had a great track record as a team player, only to be overlooked for promotion. They talk of office ‘housework’ and who does most/who is most judged and it proved to be quite controversial article! It is just one of many instances of unconscious discrimination that have been uncovered in studies led by academics likes of New York and Harvard universities amongst others.
In the words of Sandberg and Grant, “Women help more but benefit less from it.” The duo describe a world in which gender stereotypes – whereby men are expected to be “ambitious and results-oriented”, while women are restricted to the roles of being “nurturing and communal” – mean that different workers can be treated very differently when they offer to help.
Whereas men are customarily praised and rewarded for helping out, it doesn’t seem that we, as a society of business leaders and workers, are willing to extend the same hospitality to women – because it is thought that she wants to be a mere ‘team player’. But the reverse can also be true – when a man declines to help a colleague, he doesn’t face the accusations of “selfishness” that seem to affect women.
However, this isn’t a phenomenon of relevance only to gender equality. Here at Cerulean, we recognise instances of similar unconscious bias applying to one’s age, religion, marital status and many other aspects of a person of no relevance to their effectiveness at work; and we want to think about it with you!
Sign up for one of our well-regarded business breakfast sessions to learn more about unconscious biases and their dynamics in the workplace.