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.

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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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Eeny Meeny Miny Mo Game of Assigning Challenging Job Tasks

By Rebekah Peterson

Senior managers, have you ever had a challenging job assignment and weren’t sure who you wanted to give it to? Something like:

“Eeny meeny miny mo…who should I give this project to? Oh, of course, he would be great for this!”

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It seems that managers tend to assign challenging job assignments to their male subordinates over their female subordinates—and academic research proves it.

In 2009, researchers Irene De Pater, Annelies Van Vianen, and Myriam Bechtoldt randomly selected 39 senior level supervisors at a pharmaceutical company to participate in a study about job task allocation behavior.

The supervisors answered a questionnaire that consisted of three parts. Participants were asked to:

  1. Give the initials of six subordinates along with their age, gender, and how long they have worked under their supervision; they were given five descriptions of challenging tasks and asked to rank on a scale 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much) the extent they would assign a task to each subordinate.
  2. Answer questions about their subordinates ambition and job performance: they ranked on a scale of 1 (not applicable) to 5 (fully applicable) the extent to statements such as “this employee seek managerial positions” applied to each subordinate.
  3. Additionally answer questions regarding perceived similarity to their subordinates because it would play a major factoring in giving out tasks; on the same 1 to 5 scale, they were asked to rank the extent to statements such as “the things I value in life are similar to the things this employee values.”

As discussed in an earlier post about the first part of this study, the results showed that women do indeed get fewer challenging job tasks than their male co-workers, and now part two shows they aren’t receiving these tasks because of their gender. These results were consistent, even after being examined for whether the subordinates’ gender could explain supervisor’s willingness to assign them challenging tasksbeyond the number of years the subordinate worked under their manager, their ambition, job performance, or even supervisor perception of personal similarity to each subordinate.

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So, bosses, before you play eeny meeny miny mo for who should get the next challenging job tasks…

  1. Recognize if there is a problem. Have you been assigning your male employees more challenging tasks?  If not, great! Continue with your equal gender task allocation.
  2. If there seems to be a problem, the hardest part is acknowledging it and putting in a system to help address any bias. So next time you need to assign an employee to a challenging tasks, use a system that can help you track your subordinate’s years at the organization and their levels of ambition and job performance to decided more fairly who should get the task.

Or, another idea: make a list of promising subordinates for this tasks and schedule 5 minute meetings with each. See which subordinate has to right management style and ideas to bring to the project.

Make assigning tasks fair for everyone and come up with your own system to ensure that this happens. So from now on, don’t fall into the eeny meeny miny mo game…pick the right person for the challenging task.

Divorce, the wage gap, and household labor? What?

By Eliana Huffman

What if the way gender is performed in your marriage affects things like how much money you make? And what if your culture affects this even further? Researcher Lynn Prince Cooke sought to answer this question in regards to how couples split household labor in the United States compared to Germany, two different countries and cultures, and how this split affected the wage gap.

The results were pretty surprising. In the United States, equally shared household labor between husbands and wives increased female partners’ salaries, and led to lower chances of divorce. In Germany, however, the women’s salaries were also increased, but they experienced greater chances of divorce.

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What Cooke boiled it down to was this: in most cultures, men are prescribed the role of economic production (i.e. “breadwinning) in a relationship with a female partner. Women are prescribed the role of domestic (re)production, an equally important task yet one that is often shunned for being “women’s work.”

“Women’s continued responsibility for the domestic sphere inhibits their ability to attain employment equality with men (Ferree 1990; Hartmann 1981; Hobson 1990). So as an interlocking system, the gendered nature of both paid and unpaid work blocks the ability to achieve gender equality in either domain (Ferree 1990, p. 874).”

While many people believe Europeans to be far more liberal than Americans, Cooke found through analyzing longitudinal survey and interview data from the German and United States governments that in West Germany people believed much more strongly in certain genders being assigned certain household tasks, and Germany’s increasing divorce rates are more likely a result of men resenting the change in power dynamic between genders—rather than actual familial issues caused by women doing less housework and men doing more. In fact, the data said families were equally attended to regardless of who took care of these tasks.

Take that, people who think women who work are abandoning their families.

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Germany’s social policies still stem from a post-WWII era where having a male breadwinner was extremely idealized, and its culture still surprisingly reflects that. The United States, in contrast, has a longer standing history of allowing women more equal opportunity to achieve the status men do in a professional context—other cultural norms may contradict the ability for women to achieve success, but our policies take a more hands-off approach to the issue entirely.

Is the solution to address outdated policies that affect women decades later? For sure. But there are many solutions to this problem, and it is a truly a big problem indeed—divorcing your life partner is not only expensive, but upsetting, painful and just plain messy.

One big solution that we can all take on a personal level is to talk out issues of resentment and labor expectations with our partners, and come to that conversation with the knowledge that more work at home means more money in the back for you both.

Another is to only pick partners that are down to share the workload equally in the first place. Choosing to share a life with someone who you know is already on the same page in this regard is a much less frustrating alternative than having to actively work through a problem that could be potentially avoided.

Lastly, of course, be sure to praise men and couples who you see actively working towards this egalitarian goal when you can. Validation is often so meaningful to people, and dishing it out can be good for both an individual relationship as well as society at large.