Why Organizations Need to Shed Patriarchic Mindset for Better Diversity and Inclusivity


High Sounding Rhetoric and the Reality of Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) is on everyone’s mind. With the emergence of the #MeToo movement where women worldwide reported their experiences related to sexual and gender based harassment and discrimination, most organizations these days talk a lot about promoting D&I.

While some of this is paying lip service so as to appear politically correct as well as fulfill the legal and regulatory obligations, a few notable organizations are indeed taking D&I seriously and attempting to create a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

Further, even the lawmakers and the elected representatives worldwide are now prodding businesses and just about every registered entity that does business or transacts commerce to take D&I very seriously and warning them that a failure to do so would invite penal and legal action. Having said that, one must also ask how much of this newfound sincerity is true and whether the situation “on the ground” has changed for women and sexual minorities.

Indeed, there is no point in high sounding rhetoric about D&I without changing the lives of women and sexual minorities at the workplace where everyday challenges abound.

Overt and Covert Forms of Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

For instance, many women often report that while sexual and gender based harassment and discrimination is outlawed in all organizations, their realities are very different and they do indeed face such harassment and discrimination at the hands of their superiors, peers, coworker, and even subordinates.

This can take the form of informal conversations having sexually explicit and implicit meanings and double entendre as well as attitudes and beliefs that while masked to a great extent often show up naked where male colleagues display their patriarchic mindsets.

Indeed, this is the reason why many D&I experts are calling on organizations to impart gender sensitization training and asking them to shed their patriarchic mindsets if they are really serious about D&I. take for example the laws in many countries where women are not allowed to work in the Night Shift.

While this law is ostensibly to help women avoid unfortunate incidents at late hours, in reality, it is used as an excuse to deny women plum postings and work offers. Further, there are laws that mandate that women should be paid equal to men.

However, many organizations follow a double standard as far as women’s pay is concerned and take refuge in the argument that anyway they are being given maternity leave and other benefits and hence, there can be a differential pay for men and women.

How the Glass Ceiling Works to Thwart Women’s Career Progress

Turning to the much criticized “glass ceiling” or the term used to describe how women who want to progress in their careers often find it thwarted after a certain level in the hierarchy.

Indeed, the glass ceiling works in very insidious ways wherein it is the case that senior managers and high ranking executives form a “Boys Club” where their women peers (who are again at or near the top of the hierarchy) are excluded.

This can take the form of not inviting women colleagues to after office informal drinking and socializing sessions under the pretext of not wanting them to be in danger. However, as many organizational experts point out, informal bonding is one of ht e best ways to progress in one’s career since it allows for colleagues to bond on first name basis.

This also applies to offsite and overseas trips where it is common for the male colleagues to socialize and fraternize without involving their female counterparts. Thus, these examples show how Patriarchic mindsets are so dominant in the corporate world and hence, if such organizations want to truly embrace Diversity and Inclusivity, they must first make an attempt to address the structural barriers to women’s progress.

How Structural Barriers Work against Women’s Progress

Structural barriers can also take the form of insinuating and suggesting to women employees that they are in some ways inferior to men. Further, a simple term such as Chairmen of the Board can be replaced with Chairperson to convey gender neutrality.

In addition, promotional advertising and marketing ads often portray women as the caregivers and the homemakers whereas men are shown as being the breadwinners.

The point here is that as mentioned throughout this article, we are talking about a patriarchic mindset that pervades all levels of organizational hierarchies and unless, we start addressing these aspects, women would continue to be discriminated against.

Indeed, there need not be overt sexual harassment and as can be seen from the examples, indirect, covert, and under the surface tensions about men and women and their roles in society and at the workplace do as much harm as overt sexual harassment.

Of course, one can very well say that all this is taking political correctness too far and hence, not worthy of consideration. However, in our working experience, we have come across all these examples and how they thwart women at every stage.

Conclusion

At a time when the global workforce participation of women is dipping after decades of progress, it is time for organizations to take Diversity and Inclusivity seriously lest it becomes a case of too little too late.

As many studies have shown, a diverse workplace often makes organizations more competitive and productive and at the same time, also makes them vibrant and vivid. Thus, it is in the interests of the organizations to promote D&I.

To conclude, structural barriers and patriarchic attitudes must be addressed so that any attempt to wish away these problems by stating that “boys will be boys” should be avoided.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.