Social Governance

Women in the Working Environment : the Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives in the Workplace

Published on: 20 May 2022 02:50 PM
by KnowESG

Michele Franke -assistant professor of accountancy at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, - wanted to share her testimonial with the world. As a working woman, her field was dominated by men despite the efforts made by many companies to create a favorable environment for diversity and inclusiveness.

Mentorship programs were put in place for women, and the compensation for high-level and low-level roles was tied to the number of women in superior job positions.

The consulting company McKinsey & Company in a 2021 study acknowledges the commitment of these companies to reduce gender stereotypes and increase women’s presence in order for them to succeed. Research shows that helping women succeed requires the organizations' support.

Fighting gender stereotypes is an important element to consider since they create many obstacles for women, limiting their potential performance. It also suggests that women cannot perform in the best way if there is no intervention from the organization in favor of women's inclusion.

The impression given is that women are incompetent and, without help instead of meritocracy, they would not have reached these positions.

The research titled "Disadvantaged by Diversity? The Effects of Diversity Goals on Competence Perceptions" by Heilman and Welle (2006) has shown that individuals who are told that a white woman or a black man have been hired for inclusiveness matters instead of their availabilities, will end up viewing these people as less competent or professional.

The study "Was it race or merit?: The cognitive costs of observing the attributionally ambiguous hiring of a racial minority" by Espino-Pérez et al. (2008) shows that if participants were told that a Latinx person was hired to meet an inclusivity goal, they tended to see them as less competent than when they did mention that information.

As a result, when the goal of having more women in leadership roles is explicitly stated, it may create pressure to promote or reward these women regardless of their performance, which is disadvantageous for their male peers in this situation.

Michele Franke, in a study with Anne Farrel, confirms that there is evidence that supports that signaling effect. The study revealed that, contrary to what the other studies showed, individuals had no issue labelling women as having high potential. The issue was that it was not because they were more competent than men. In fact, in the participants’ minds, they even tend to have fewer abilities.

Placing women in high-level roles did not contribute much to lowering gender stereotypes. There is a lot of pressure to reward and promote these women, but their abilities and performances are sometimes overlooked. This may lead to drastic consequences since the male peers tend to be demotivated since the rewarding process is not merit-based anymore. Collaboration and communication might also be affected by this phenomenon.

Finally, women are also affected when they know they are being promoted for these reasons instead of their competencies. They tend to lose confidence and this influences their behavior.

There are high inconsistencies in the way gender stereotypes are handled to increase female representation. Higher efforts need to be deployed in order to create the appropriate working environment for male and female peers to flourish and collaborate.

Source : Fortune