8 Things I’ve Learnt About Gender In The Workplace

Earlier this year I began podcasting as a part of my marketing package for businesses. I realised businesses wanted to raise awareness of the issues that supported their values but maybe didn't have space, time or want to start or present a podcast and so, I found myself a niche of providing a podcast content service.

Take Sagely for example, they provide workshops, coaching and support for employees to obtain financial wellness (the vast majority of UK employees are suffering from money worries (94%), with more than three quarters (77%) of employees saying that money worries impact them at work, according to new research from Close Brothers). I came up with the idea to create a podcast called 'Future Self', interviewing coaches, finance experts and wellness businesses on what they've learned about crafting a workplace that better serves the future versions of ourselves and how we can all look after our mental health in the workplace.

During the episodes, I soak up a wealth of knowledge from the guests I interview and on this occasion, my mind was blown. I spoke to Katy Murray of Catalyst Collective and Fiona Smith, who are both researchers and consultants in gender bias and the gender pay gap. They're on a mission to create a more inclusive world by cheering on female leaders, sharing practical plus research-based wisdom and providing simple and powerful resources, prompts and nudges within the workplace that create transformations.

On this episode; 'Just how big the gender pay gap is and what you can do about it', we talked about real experiences when it comes to gender bias, uncover how big the gender pay gap actually is and discuss tools and steps we can take to pave a path forward.

Below I've listed the top five things I learned during the recording of this episode:

1. The Gender Pay Gap adds up over a lifetime of a woman's career to be around £300,000.

This significantly affects women's financial freedom in the long term. Fiona points out "It's complex and multi-faceted but here are some of the biggest drivers;

We describe the world of work as coded as 'male and white' and that basically means that historically the workplace has been designed around white men that fitted a particular mould and if you don't fit that particular mould, it's a harder place to be, you have to swim harder."

2. Girls and boys are socialised at an early age to behave in a certain way and to aspire to certain careers.

Right now we still live in a world that assumes that women will carry the bulk of domestic and childcare responsibility. In a nutshell, it adds up to a world of work in which women have to work harder and are excluded from some of the best-paid work.

3. Gender Bias and Pay Gap issues are changing painfully slowly.

Recent World Economic Forum suggested that it'll take another two hundred and two years to create gender parity globally...just let that sink in. Staggering.

4. We have to be proactive to make a difference.

Katy and Fi have experienced clients asking,

"Aren't we done with gender?"

...they'd both argue that we're only just at the very start of the journey of men and women creating a fairer workplace.

5. Stop. Pause. Work out what the heck is going on.

So much of what contributes to the gender pay gap is operating at a below-the-radar subconscious level, it takes a lot of people to stop and say 'this doesn't make sense'.

6. As a leader, create an environment in which it's okay to talk about money

If you have a responsibility as a leader, you can help towards these issues by helping to work out how we can get over the taboos around money, encouraging females to negotiate more and increase pay transparency. For all inside the workplace, we can start those conversations with our colleagues and peers and normalise these conversations. Katy explains, 'I have a number of friends that have started doing this and have realised that they are paid differently and that can come as a shock or surprise, but then there's some data, then there's the next step and there's a conversation to be had inside the workplace, so just those small start points can start to shift over time".

There are many more nuggets in this episode and I really recommend listening to it if you're in an HR or leadership role and are wanting to learn more about these issues.

7. Step into a bold place and ask for what you need

Whether that's more flexibility, additional salary etc., ask yourself how you can take courage and equip ourselves to do that with data, numbers and research so we're ready to have a robust and adult conversation with your boss or your boss's boss. As women, we've been socialised not to self-promote or talk about our accomplishments and it's important to learn the skill of bringing into the conversation about the value and benefit that it's bringing to the business in order to negotiate. Fiona says,

"When women negotiate they can face push-back because they're breaching the norms about what people expect of women.

"My top tips on this are; stay objective and get the data. If you are negotiating to move into a new company, Glassdoor is great for getting a sense for what the salary scales are so you actually know where you're being placed when you get an offer from an organisation".

8. Women face what is called the 'Likeability Bias'.

"There's an expectation that women will be kind and communal. When they display traits that aren't kind and communal, it gets a dislike response from both men and women. Yet, when they are kind and communal they are seen as less competent, which is called a 'double-bind'." As said by Fiona, before going on to provide an excellent example of a study done in this area and talks about how on an interaction-by-interaction basis I can say

"To get the result I want, what balance of competence and likeability do I need to show at this point to get come of the control back?"

You can now listen to the episode at the following places: Apple iTunes or Libsyn.

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If you'd like more information on bringing Financial Wellbeing into your company, visit Sagely's website for more information.

To learn more about ironing out gender issues inside your company, you can visit Catalyst Collective.

To talk about how we can work together to produce a podcast that aligns with your company mission and values, simply send an email to me over at hello@samanthajones.co

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