Gender Bias is real, it’s destructive, and it’s largely hidden; but if the candor demonstrated by the eight-year-old featured in this YouTube video http://bit.ly/2dV50X4 is any indication, it’s likely to end up in the spotlight when her generation (Generation Z: born 1996 – 2013), begins to enter the workforce next year. Taking a clear stand against gender bias, this articulate preteen expresses her objection with a digital spotlight that provides employers a unique view into the individualistic mindset of the Generation Z workforce. As the most diverse, multicultural generation in history, gender equality is a fundamental expectation for these digital natives who are more likely to stand up, step out, and speak up (in a collective voice), than any other generation in history.
The first to be born into the digital world, Generation Z is represented by over 70 million highly educated and innovative thinkers who look for solutions on their own; exactly what the business world needs to succeed in the 21st Century. But there’s a catch….Gen Zers also operate in a reality-based world unencumbered by traditional gender stereotypes. They are fiercely independent and technologically savvy; and when they talk about gender equality, they mean all genders. They are the most self-directed generation in history, and the most likely to establish a new level of accountability for today’s employers; which is why forward-thinking companies are embracing Data Analytics, Practical Application Training, and Gender-Neutral Policies to clean up the past and refocus the spotlight on maximizing the unique perspective of this new demographic.
Torture the data and the truth will bubble up….every single time. This is simple and sound advice for organizations who are seeking to identify and correct situations where gender bias may be manifested in hiring decisions, pay practices, and promotions. Inequality is defined by comparison, and analytical comparisons across social demographics are a great way to highlight and either correct or affirm inconsistencies in the normal course of business. Transparency is the key to equality. Companies who incorporate comparison analyses into daily processing routines can proactively identify issues and gain enormous advantage over the destructive potential of undiscovered bias.
Practical Application Training
Incorporate practice (the practical application of new knowledge), into gender bias training programs. Active participation is critical to knowledge retention, and a key component of training programs that are intended to shift actions and/or behaviors. Studies show that while we retain only 5% to 10% of what we hear, when we actually put new knowledge into practice, our retention is increased to 75%. The best way to eradicate bias, is with knowledge. And practiced knowledge solidifies learning. Simply put, we learn what we live; and companies who deliver gender bias training that combines knowledge with practical application are more likely to develop employees who practice equality in the normal course of business.
Alter or eliminate gender-specific employee policies. Policies guide our practices, and gender-specific policies may actually invite or perpetuate gender bias. The most common culprits are dress code, flexible work hours, maternity leave, and paternity leave, but if you look across all your policies you may discover more. Here’s some evidence to support gender-neutral policies: In 2011 the U.S. Census reports that 32% (up from 26% in 2002), of fathers are “a regular source for care of their children under the age of 15”, i.e., men are staying home when kids are sick or out of school for various reasons. In 2014, Pew Research released a report that the number of men “choosing to be stay-at-home-dads” was 21% (up from 5% in 1989). Clearly times have changed, and gender-neutral policies are a change that better supports today’s expanding view of equality, while equally honoring the men and women whose skills and expertise are critical to success.
Gender bias can be elusive, but equality is very clear; it is, and always has been, a critical component of human dignity. Likewise, the drive to eradicate bias has always been in play, but the issue is quickly being illuminated as Generation Z enters the workplace with another layer of complexity and a digital flare for visibility. The new drive for equality is reality-based, gender-inclusive, and completely unencumbered by traditional male and female roles. Taking tangible action with Data Analytics, Practical Application Training, and Gender-Neutral Policies is the only right answer for employers who want to position themselves for the 21st Century workforce, and avoid the digital spotlight!
Abby Foster is the founder of Ahnimisha Consulting. Foster blogs at www.ahnimisha.com, and is a generational dynamics trainer, Human Capital consultant, and a certified Birkman© consultant. She delivers workshops, training seminars, professional coaching, and consulting services utilizing proven tools and techniques to help companies maximize the efforts of every employee in today’s multigenerational workforce.
Contact Abby directly at [email protected]