International women’s day is a great opportunity for us as a firm, to both celebrate our women in leadership as well as acknowledge the barriers still prevalent to women in the workplace. Although we may have progressed to ensuring more equity, diversity and inclusion there is still a lot of more ground to cover in terms of education, awareness and championing change especially in male dominated professions.
Diversity-leadership means recognizing that cultural preferences differ and adapting strategies and processes that work for more group members. The EDI Community Alliance is attempting to bridge this gap by creating a platform for Diverse women to come forward and share some of the challenges they have faced as they rose to the top of the ranks.
What are some common challenges and barriers they face?
- Women tend to be less aggressive than their male counterparts in terms of advocating on their behalf. They often feel that they have to work harder to prove themselves and are passed over for opportunities.
- Another challenge for diverse women, in particular, are language and cultural barriers. Often this plays a role in their self confidence and their ability to speak up.
- Women in business find it harder to make themselves heard in a room full of men, as well as being able to build alliances. It is a lot harder for them to network and build strategic and mutually beneficial relationships, as networking events are often not structured to be inclusive to women.
- Gender and generational biases, create something called an “Imposter Syndrome” which make it hard for women to assess situations objectively and trust their own judgements. Especially in male dominated professions, women tend to face gender stereotypes and feel that they are placed in an uneven playing field.
- Another significant challenge that women face is balancing home and work. Especially if they have a family with kids, they are the primary care giver. Another common challenge, is being passed over for promotions due to family responsibilities.
What can we do to level the playing field?
Awareness and education: We need to spread an awareness and educate our male counterparts how their words and actions, although subconscious could possibly be contributing to the bias. Changing the perception that women are more emotional.
Create an Inclusive Space: Organizations need to work towards creating an inclusive space for all employees by regularly revising their EDI policies. This is not just restricted to hiring more women in leadership, but rather creating a safe space for all diverse individuals. This also includes structuring networking events to be activities that are inclusive to women.
Championing Change: Being a pioneer for changing the way something is done currently, whether it is the introduction of a new EDI policy or an inclusive environment can pave the way for other organizations to follow suit. Creating opportunities for women leaders and advocating for more women in leadership will not only enable others to find the confidence, but also give them a mentor who is able to relate to them which is instrumental in planning their career path.
We definitely have a long way to go, and there is so much more work to be done in this space. Join the EDI Community Alliance as we speak to some of the most spectacular diverse women in leadership from the Ottawa Capital Region about their journey and experiences in the upcoming Panel event on 23rd March 2022.