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How to reduce gender bias in the workplace

gender bias

From the passive-aggressive gender-poking comments, to larger issues such as wage gaps, gender bias is still very apparent in our workforce.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2015, which monitors how a country’s resources and opportunities are distributed between men and women, Malaysia ranks 111th among 145 countries when it comes to gender equality. Compared to our past performances, the country has definitely made a positive step in the right direction, but we are still far from where we’d like to be.

Gender bias occurs for a number of reasons, including subconscious values and perceptions instilled from a young age. When not dealt with, its effects can roll into the workplace on multiple levels.

On a personal level, employees on the receiving end of the biased behaviour can become unmotivated and unproductive, especially when they believe they are not justly remunerated according to their performance. On an organisational level, you risk losing valuable employees whose talent might have become unnecessarily overshadowed.

Countering gender biases is a difficult task, but it starts with each and every one of us, regardless of your position.

Educate your colleagues and staff about gender stereotypes
Our biases affect our decisions and actions, and we’re not always conscious of it. Therefore education is key to counter this.

By highlighting the prevalence of this problem, or simply by bringing attention to gender bias behaviours to others, you can spur your colleague and staff to scrutinise their own actions, slowly breaking that tendency to make bias decisions and comments.

Set an example for others to follow
You don’t need to be a leader to set examples. Once you’ve come to learn about gender bias in the workplace, you become even more aware of your own and others’ actions.

If you notice someone making a conscious or unconscious gender bias move (such as a sexist comment in a staff meeting, for example) bring it to their attention politely. It isn’t always the most popular stand to take, and people may not always see anything wrong with what they do, but be patient – big changes start small.

Have transparency in hiring activities
Are you keeping track of hiring your company’s hiring activities? If so, take a peek into your records. This can often reveal a degree of bias decision making. How many more men are getting hired over women? Who are the ones moving up the ladder more quickly and why is that so?

Speak to your hiring managers and learn about their decision-making processes. Identify the areas that are vulnerable to their gender biases and nip them in the bud.

Practise anonymous hiring
For roles that are commonly believed to be skewed towards a particular gender, we encourage recruiters to practise anonymous hiring.

Removing identifying details from resumes such as a candidate’s gender in the CV can cast out a great deal of stereotypes. This will help recruiters focus on other important details such as the candidate’s experience and capabilities, instead of their suitability for a role due to their gender.

These are smalls steps to take towards countering the issue at hand. While it will not completely eliminate the problem, it brings us to a starting point. Let’s take a stand against such behaviour and create a more inclusive and productive work environment that celebrates diversity!

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