Take steps to elim­i­nate gen­der bias

The New Paper - - NEWS - AR­LENE WHERRET

Work­ing for gen­der equal­ity is not just the right thing to do, it helps to at­tract and keep top tal­ent in firms

Sin­ga­pore has strug­gled to achieve eq­uity for women in the work­place, with the coun­try’s per­for­mance in clos­ing the gen­der gap steadily wors­en­ing.

Its rank­ing slipped 10 spots to 65th po­si­tion out of 144 coun­tries in the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum Global Gen­der Gap Re­port last year.

Aside from be­ing the right thing to do eth­i­cally, ad­dress­ing gen­der bias is also vi­tal to at­tract­ing and keep­ing top tal­ent.

Here are some prac­ti­cal steps com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore can take to­day.

Im­ple­ment gen­der-neu­tral re­cruit­ment pro­cesses Care­fully word job ad­verts. Re­search shows that ad­jec­tives such as “com­pet­i­tive” and “de­ter­mined” put women off. Words such as “col­lab­o­ra­tive” and “co­op­er­a­tive” tend to at­tract more women than men.

Stan­dard­ise in­ter­views, anonymise cur­ricu­lum vi­tae and use blind eval­u­a­tion pro­cesses to help your com­pany re­cruit from more di­verse back­grounds and at­tract peo­ple based on skills, not gen­der.

Pro­tect against un­con­scious bias, re­view salaries and stan­dard­ise pay

Fre­quently re­view salaries with an eye to achiev­ing par­ity between gen­ders, races and other ar­eas where di­ver­sity is a pri­or­ity.

When re­cruit­ing, set the pay range of­fered on the size of the role and breadth of re­spon­si­bil­ity, rather than on how well can­di­dates ne­go­ti­ated their last pay pack­age.

Be sure to ed­u­cate em­ploy­ees about their un­con­scious bi­ases. Although this does not guar­an­tee at­ti­tudes will change, it does help em­ploy­ees work to­wards elim­i­nat­ing them.

Have a clear pol­icy on anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion

Cre­ate a clear, un­bi­ased, non-re­tal­ia­tory, anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion pol­icy that en­sures em­ploy­ees have a proper way to com­ment or re­port on in­ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment.

Make sure ev­ery­one knows and un­der­stands it. Im­ple­ment se­vere penal­ties for sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­rass­ment.

A Unilever study found that women and men strug­gle to ac­knowl­edge gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour (most likely sex­ual ha­rass­ment) in the work­place.

In fact, 67 per cent of women said they feel pres­sured to over­look in­ap­pro­pri­ate acts. And 64 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men said men do not con­front the per­pe­tra­tor when/af­ter wit­ness­ing bad be­hav­iour.

En­sure man­agers are ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing women to progress

Make sure that fe­male em­ploy­ees are ap­ply­ing for pro­mo­tions and ask­ing for pay rises.

At KPMG, when a pro­mo­tion is ad­ver­tised, line man­agers are en­cour­aged to check whether their high po­ten­tial fe­male col­leagues have ap­plied and if not, ask why.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal Hewlett-Packard re­view, if faced with a job de­scrip­tion list of 10 cri­te­ria, women don’t feel they are up to the task if they can­not tick off ev­ery item, whereas men are con­fi­dent if they meet 60 per cent of the re­quire­ments.

Women must be en­cour­aged to be bold, take risks and have faith in their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and strengths.

It is also im­por­tant to pro­mote a cul­ture where great ideas come from all lev­els, gen­ders and races, and all voices are wel­come and re­spected around the ta­ble.

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