Inclushitivity

By Liv Stephens

Have you ever been a part of an organization that proudly announces “we are inclusive” or “this is an inclusive space,” then looked around you and seen no diversity?

But, they just said that they are inclusive! Where’s the diversity? Where’s the equity? If an organization has “inclusive” HR practices, shouldn’t a diverse space logically follow?

Man, it would be great to live in a world where causal logic mattered again.

giphy14

Quinetta M. Roberson argues that inclusivity practices function as an agent of corporate identity, not as an agent of equity. Her study surveyed HR personnel from 51 publicly traded organizations via email. The survey asked how they define diversity, how they define inclusion, the attributes of a diverse organization, and the attributes of an inclusive organization.

The survey revealed that participants had distinctly different definitions of diversity and inclusivity.

Roberson defines Inclusivity as “the degree to which an employee is accepted and treated as an insider by others in a work system” and in the survey as “the ways an organization configures its systems and structures to value and leverage the potential, and to limit the disadvantages, of differences.” Participant “definitions of diversity focused primarily on heterogeneity and the demographic composition of groups or organizations, whereas definitions of inclusion focused on employee involvement and the integration of diversity into organizational systems and processes.”

What the heck does that mean? Diversity makes an organization look like it is comfortable for minorities, while inclusivity makes it feel that way.

giphy15

Management of diversity through corporate HR practices is not the same thing as corporate inclusivity, she explains. Inclusivity is an identity-blind practice, meaning there rules are made with an imagined minority in mind.

Inclusive workplace policies are made to include any sort of possible minority the HR department can think of, often without thinking of a specific person or group when making these rules.

Diversity management, on the other hand, is done by hiring and promoting actual people.

Roberson concludes that identity-blind management is not always an effective way to promote the interests of marginalized groups, and states that more research must be done in a quest to strengthen the currently weak link between inclusion and practical diversity.

However, as companies continue to adopt inclusivity policies, many remain non-diverse with milk aisle excuses; all these [white] milks are different types, we swear! Inclusivity is a sanitized corporate practice that feigns relevance and uniqueness, but does not always create diverse spaces or improve the experience of diverse and marginalized identities.

We need to fight for inclusive and diverse workspaces if we want to solve the problem of diversity in the workforce.

What’s wrong with being confident?

By Joey Konrad

When you think about your getting your first job, do you often ask yourself what’s next? You know, what’s involved in creating an actual career?

There’s a wide variety of resources available when it comes to the conversation of job interviews and getting started in a career, but there is simply a much smaller discussion out there for negotiating salaries or promotions within your career field, which is just as vital to your career progress.

Besides lack of experience with this discussion, women at work have an additional hurdle of overcoming gender barriers that have employers promoting women by performance, while those same employers are promoting male coworkers based on potential.

giphy12

The good news is these barriers are not immovable objects, and can be worked around with a little practice. In 2013, Anett Grant and Amanda Taylor video-recorded interviews of men and women in leadership positions within Fortune 50 companies, and generated a list of strategies for women use to resist sexist attitudes or self-doubt in the workplace and promotional conversations.

They found  that women  constantly self-regulate when talking about their potential and their ideas.  As a result, they hesitate in interviews when responding to questions, which can signal lack of confidence. The men studied would also hesitate—but for less time, and responded confidently to questions asked. Grant and Taylor recommend that women should work on shutting off that regulating voice in their heads, and start responses strong and confident, even at the expense of using “filler words”. Additionally, structuring answers and practicing responses beforehand helps to quiet that regulating voice so you can truly speak your mind.

Grant and Taylor also noted that there was a gender gap in keeping responses succinct. Women would often have longer responses because of multiple hesitations and be perceived as less direct. In fact, on average, women’s answers were longer by almost 30 seconds. The researchers point out that’s enough time for Usain Bolt to win gold in the 100 meter dash—twice.

Further, the researchers argued that women discuss achievement and personal success in abstract terms, which isn’t helpful when communicating with higher-ups that are familiar with traditional promotional language. Taking careful note about the work you have contributed, or creating explicit lists of projects and statistical impacts (i.e. monetary gains) to take credit for provides a much more effective response.

giphy13

Lastly, through this study Grant and Taylor found that communication styles between genders were different.  Men were significantly more likely to use first-person nouns like “I” when discussing achievements, while women often used nondescript pronouns like “we.” Using  “I”, “my”, and “mines” show your actual contributions much more effectively.

Does this seem a little overwhelming? You’re not alone. Try making these changes in everyday speech so that you can avoid having to filter them out in a job interview or when asking for a promotion, which would only create more hesitations in your speech.

Self-promotion is not a random ability that some people have while others are just out of luck; it is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and deployed successfully. Beyond the strategies here, look to InformHer staff writer Rebekah Peterson’s article on modesty for more tips!

“Thats what she said”

By Bronwyn Neal

Whether Michael Scott is making crazy jokes, leading a Diversity Day discussion, or complaining to the camera about Toby, there is no denying the comedic appeal of The Office.  

Although The Office uses humor to shed light on the issues of white male-dominated Western white-collar workplaces, it also, reinforces gender stereotypes that hinder the success of women and men in these corporate settings.

giphy7

Now, before you curse my name for criticizing this ever most popular and timeless “reality show”, let me explain.

In 2013, Jessica Birthisel and Jason A. Martin analyzed the first 2 seasons of The Office and assigned gender related incidents into 3 categories: gendered hierarchies, corporative initiatives magnifying gender tension, and informal mixed-gendered interaction. The researchers used real-world workplace research in order to explore the ways in which The Office reinforces these frameworks. As a result they were able to assess if the representation of real life office situations in The Office reinforce or challenge the patriarchy that is American corporate life.

Findings:

Gendered hierarchies are basically power structures; how men and women, as bosses, are perceived. Women in leadership positions tend to be seen as uptight and aggressive; whereas women in a support role are viewed as sweet and helpful. Men as bosses on the other hand are viewed as in charge, but more feminine due to their “suit” and corporate image when compared to more “manly” blue collar positions. These stereotypical characteristics are carried out by The Offices’ main characters; Jane and Michael. Jane, Michael’s boss, is the HBIC at Dunder Mifflin; she is no-nonsense and aggressive when dealing with problems and coworkers. Michael, on the other hand, would rather be seen as a friend than a boss and would rather be seen as “cool” than authoritative.

giphy9

When corporate initiatives magnify tensions in the workplace, they usually organize a meeting or workshop similar to the one that Michael facilitate called Diversity Day. These meeting essentially place everyone in a space to talk about uncomfortable issues in an effort to make people feel more comfortable. Sounds like a full proof plan, right? I didn’t think so either. Researchers observed that despite good intentions, these meetings tend to increase racial and gender tensions, as demonstrated through Michael’s inappropriate joke telling and conducting activities.

As a fan myself, it saddens me that I was unable to get through this article without mentioning Jim and Pam’s infamous love story. Although their unspoken attraction and lust for one another brings a little flavor to the show, their romance emphasizes that a white, heteronormative romance is the only spark that excites an otherwise boring office setting.

giphy10

It’s all just fun and games right?

Well, no. Due to the reality show feel and authentic depiction of everyday office life in corporate America, The Office presents its viewers with a work environment where offensive employees and unfitting behavior is neither punished nor received repercussions. Due to the transparency and the realistic characteristics of the office, the lack of responsibility taken for actions naturalizes the sexualization of women and harassment of people based on gender or sexual orientation.

What can you do? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Do not entertain jokes that repress someone’s identity as an individual. This could be something as simple as walking away or not laughing in order to show your discomfort.

giphy11

  1. Hold people accountable for behaviors and actions that may be offensive to others. It is never fun to call someone out, so taking them aside instead of talking in front of a group will make you and the person more comfortable when trying to educate them on what they did wrong.
  2. Question policies that seem to create division as opposed to collaboration. Policies can change. Just because it is written down doesn’t mean it is set in stone. If you feel like a policy hurts more than help, talk to HR and figure out how you can improve it.   

Hi, I’m Billy Mays, It’s Billy Mays, Here, Hi

By Liv Stephens

We all know that guy at work who won’t stop talking about himself. I mean, it’s like dude, how many times can you talk about yourself the way Billy Mays (RIP) talks about OxyClean?

pasted-image-0.png

Beautiful!

Men and women talk about themselves differently at work, it’s true. So it would only make sense that they also talked about themselves differently online on social networking and business networking sites.

In 2012, researchers Eimler, Drapkina, Pfänder, Schliwa and Schawohl restate the long-tested idea that men on social networking services (SNS) emphasize power, occupation or status, and masculinity. Women, on the other hand, stress relationships, communication skills, and feelings. But, these researchers specifically wanted to know if this was also true on business networking services (BNS).

To do this, they looked at 200 BNS profiles on the most popular BNS website in Germany: Xing. They examined 100 male and 100 female profiles quantitatively for number of words, number of contacts, and number of groups they participated in or moderated. The profiles were also analyzed qualitatively for business elements (achievements, descriptions, task-oriented phrasing) and non-business elements (feelings, family and friends, networks, creativity, sports, smiling in the profile photo etc.).

What they found was that women make an effort to appear friendlier by smiling and listed more information about themselves in their profile. Men stressed their seriousness and competence through body language, not smiling in their profile picture, and by using more qualifying adjectives. Men also moderated and participated in more professional groups on the site. There was no difference between men and women when it came to listing awards they had received.

pasted image 0 (1).png

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

It’s important to understand that men may be receiving more advertising on BNS sites by being visible as moderators in networking groups and using more qualifying adjectives—but this does not mean that women are actually less qualified. The problem with this is iif an employer is comparing the profile of a man and the profile of a woman, the man will still seem more qualified no matter the actual reality. Crazy!

la-me-billy-mays29-2009jun29

Here’s how to order!

So women, get in there and write some text about how frickin’ qualified you are. Don’t be afraid to seem impersonal by claiming the work you’ve done and the leadership skills you have—in the end, that’s what the site is for, and clearly men are already doing it.

Can a company’s organizational structure actually be more friendly to women?

By Lauren Thatcher

Companies can be gendered? Wait, what?

Let’s begin with talking about a company’s power—it starts with the organizational structure. If decisions are made only by upper management, the company is hierarchical. If the decisions are divided up among all levels of workers, the company is egalitarian.

Researcher Lynn Gencianeo Chin investigated how a company’s organizational structure, centralized (hierarchical) or decentralized (egalitarian), affects leadership evaluations of men and women regardless of their individual leadership styles.

giphy5

She did this by having 200 college students read and evaluate profiles of companies asking for Federal loans. All companies were from the healthcare field for many reasons, including it can be seen as a gender-neutral industry. She identified each profile as either a centralized or decentralized company, that was lead by a man or a woman.

After being given brief descriptions of the qualifications of the company’s CEO, CEO gender, organizational structure, and organizational outcomes the students were asked to evaluate the profile. For each profile students evaluated the CEO’s leadership skills, as well as rewarded or punished the CEO for the company’s outcome, success or failure.  

For a woman in a hierarchical company, despite her leadership style not being described, she received “dominance backlash.” It didn’t matter if a woman’s hierarchical company succeeded, because women didn’t receive recognition. However, when men’s companies succeeded, the evaluations of their leadership skills increased.

So basically, women can’t win in hierarchical companies. We get lower ratings than men when we fail and we get lower ratings than men when we succeed. Even a woman’s actual competence was questioned more than a man’s competence when their company failed.

giphy6

After handling that nice punch in the stomach, let’s look at women in egalitarian companies. This organizational structure offers an equality atmosphere that allows women not be devalued next to their male competition when they succeed, thankfully. However, that does not apply if their company fails. Women receive a much comparatively larger drop in evaluations in competence and leadership skills when this occurs.

It’s like this is never ending. There was almost a light at the end of the tunnel with the egalitarian companies…almost. So what does this mean for women in the workplace? What can organizations do to limit this?

Organizations need to create a consistent criteria for evaluating different levels of success. And further, we need to hire more women to make promotional and company culture decisions.

So though the past and present are dim with a negative bias towards women in leadership, hopefully the future can be bright with women supporting other women and organizations strict criteria diminishing opportunity for penalizing women’s leadership.