Your boss has been accused of sexual harassment and your senior management team doesn’t include a single woman. Are these signs your workplace has a gender problem? Yes, but these are the extreme cases. While the extreme are easy to pinpoint, there are many subtle signals simmering below the surface which are tougher to define and call out. These, however, are the daily experiences of most female workers that bear witness to a systematic, endemic and – quite frankly – shameful reality. From being left off the after-work brainstorm, to being casually called “babe” or told to “develop a thicker skin”, gender discrimination is rife in most companies. And this is before we even get to sexual harassment, which can be so normalised the perpetrators think nothing of leaving victims in their wake, careers in tatters.
These environments at best prevent women from advancing and, at worst, result in great talent walking out of the door angry and exasperated. In the very worst examples, women are broken emotionally and financially. Calling out not only the most serious cases, but also the everyday, the previously overlooked, subtle nuances is the only way to fight entrenched company culture. The good news is this: as women start to fight back, human resources departments are listening more keenly than ever before. So, what are the signs a workplace has a gender issue and how can it be tackled?
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