Fighting Change Fatigue About Workplace Equality

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Gender inequality has long overshadowed the corporate policies and business jargon complying with laws against discrimination. You don’t need statistics to know that discrimination remains widespread, and women are still underpaid. The old-fashioned logic of, “He gets paid more because he has to support a family,” hardly fits today’s working demographic, not that it was ever fair — or legal — to begin with.

While American firms are making baby steps towards achieving gender equality in the workplace, men are still paid 20 percent more than women. The number of female C-suite executives has risen slightly, in part because more women are competing with higher education and many are the sole supporters of families where the father is absent.

As society shifts, change doesn’t come as easily to companies set in their ways in a world where discrimination laws haven’t really been enforced for half a century. As with any long-term effort, organizations who have made strides in gender equality run the risk of losing momentum if they begin to experience change fatigue.

WSJ surveyed 222 companies and found less than half of the male respondents considered advancing women a high priority.

If you find that your organization’s efforts are beginning to falter from change fatigue – or if they were lackluster to begin with — the Wall Street Journal guides the way for you to charge up your momentum:

  • Make yourself accountable. If you are a senior leader, make sure that you and your counterparts are accountable for your company’s gender diversity metrics. Change needs to come from the top down, and your employees will notice your efforts or lack thereof. Regular goal-setting and performance reviews should be integrated into your business practice so that the task of achieving equity isn’t relegated to the back burner.
  • Get men involved. WSJ surveyed 222 companies and found less than half of the male respondents considered advancing women a high priority. This issue can be improved through the committed actions of senior leaders bringing more women on board, and by making a business case for the value of diverse teams.
  • Take a long, hard look at race and gender. While only 20 percent of C-suite executives are women, when you add race into mix, you’ll see a disturbing racial component in addition to gender bias. Only 3 percent of C-suite roles are held by women of color. Black women especially face the lowest rates of promotion. Don’t overlook the racial factor with your gender equality efforts.

As more women feel emboldened to ask for promotions, executives must be prepared to respond as they would to a male employee asking for the same promotion. Study after study proves hidden biases to be endemic. That’s why men in leadership positions need to be proactive: only a conscious approach can defeat subconscious modes of thought.