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Yes, there is gender inequality and bias in the workplace. Otherwise, there would be more women near or at the top of the corporate ladder.

According to a new study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co, women are 15 percent less likely to be promoted at work.

Here's a new twist on promoting equality  . . . let's start with ourselves . . . letting go of societal norm and family behavior patterns . . . that are not serving us.

 

Step 1: Acknowledge Unconscious Bias

I have been amazed and agast where I have have been unconsciously perpetuating gender inequality . . . and, maybe some of this hits home with you.

If I was in the passenger seat and we were picking up an older male colleague, I would invariably offer my seat to him.  My mother and grandmother would have done the same thing if my dad was driving and picking up another man.

Here's a rhetorical question . . . Would one of your male colleagues at work stay in the front seat or move to the back when faced with a similar situation?

You can change the protocol of the past and stay seated.  I don't know about you . . . but I have stopped dissappearing into the back seat.

It’s interesting to review how behavior has been modeled for us by prior generations.

Do you find yourself being asked to book a cab to a meeting? Get the cake for a colleague’s birthday? Order dinner in when it’s a late night?

You can challenge these norms, say no and recommend a male colleague for the job. "Thanks Bob, I did that last time.  Let John take charge of the birthday cake this time." 

 

No 2: Speak Up More

Stop worrying about being wrong in meetings. Share your thoughts and feelings. Start being a voice at the table. Overcome your hesitation about the opinions of others. Whatever you want to say is likely to be said by someone else if you keep quiet.

Set a precedent and state your case clearly and directly. Put forth your argument with logic and passion . . . quiet passion that conveys that you have your case in order and know what you are talking about.

Learn the art of persuasion. Even if everyone is against you at the table, people may eventually come around. And even if they do not, you will become a trusted ally that your colleagues see as honest and forthright. Someone who is not afraid speak her mind even if no one else agrees.

Be grateful for the opportunity to be heard. Everytime you speak up, your confidence will build. 

And, don't expect perfection.  It doesn't exist . . . just review how you did and feel into how you might do things differently next time. 

Model yourself after ones who are comfortable in their own skin and able to speak their minds. 

Seek out a mentor who can help you come into your own.  You don't have to do it alone.  We are better together. 

 

No 3: Be Okay Asking for More

There's no need to ASK if you can take a vacation . . . that’s like asking for permission to breathe.  Simply inform your superiors when we will be gone . . . it's what you are entitled to receive as a part of your employment.

Be vocal about what you want: more pay, more leave, more work, different work, more responsibility. If you don’t speak up, who is going to speak up for you?

This assumes, of course, that you are a competent, hard-working, talented, capable woman who is worth being compensated and treated the same as your male counterparts . . . and you are!

When you seek permission, you are letting someone else decide what’s best for you. That’s paternalistic . . . what we are talking about here is men and women walking hand-in-hand as equals . . . not better than or worse than . . . fair and equal treatment for all.

You are worthy in claiming what is fair and equitable . . . you are worth it.

 

Wrapping things up . . .

Don't focus on the reverse of an idea . . . what's wrong . . . where inequality exists . . .when we focus on what we don’t want, we get more of that.

Focus on what you are moving towards and take action to create that.

Notice where you have unconsciously bought into ‘societal norms’ of generations past, and choose to do things in a new, more compassionate way.

Being angry, aggressive and confrontational are often not necessary or helpful.  It was needed in the early years of the suffragette movement, and not without great cost to those pioneers of change.

Start with how you feel about yourself .. . you are worthy of the equality you are seeking and the action you are taking. . .  and that can be enough to change what's not working ... to overcome the inertia of the past.

Equality benefits everyone. It’s about treating everyone fairly based upon merit and the gifts, talents and abilities that they bring to the table.  Remember that . . . you are / we are moving towards what's best for all concerned.

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