Call It Out, Challenge It and Change It 

logo for cmi women in black colour on a purple line

The working woman faces many micro-aggressions on a daily basis according to both the CMI’s latest research into gender bias in the workplace and the work undertaken by organisations creating inclusive workplaces. These actions erode women’s ability to deliver their best work and to be valued and recognised for their contributions.

These findings resonated strongly with attendees at CMI Southern and Bournemouth University Developing Women Leader’s event in March 2018. The panellists and students identified with the small and not so small negative behaviours observed in CMI’s research.  Panellists called on everyone to act if you see or experience behaviours which make you or a colleague uncomfortable. They followed the call identified in CMI’s report, the Developing Women Leader’s. Their message was simple: call it out, challenge it and change it.

Easy to say but not so easy to do? CMI’s private Facebook group offers a safe environment for women to talk generically about the challenges they are facing and understand how others have tackled similar difficulties. The group is open to both CMI members and non-members so please do invite your friends and colleagues to join.

Women don’t want to be treated differently. They want the same as men: to be able get on with their job, to be equally valued for their contribution to the organisation and to work without fear, hindrance or discomfort.

CMI’s research showed managers are critical to creating an inclusive, safe and supportive environment where all employees feel valued. A mix of surveys, semi-structured interviews and in-depth interviews identified six best-in-class actions taken by companies committed to tackling gender inequality. These actions are straightforward, inexpensive and good for everyone in the organisation.

Not sure what all the fuss is about?

Want to raise the topic with your team? CMI’s satirical video might help.

Watch it with your team at least twice. Ask them to spot the obvious discriminatory behaviours and the many subtle ways in which the woman’s authority is undermined and she is made to feel uncomfortable. You will probably laugh and wince in equal measure.

Hopefully the video will be the icebreaker for an open discussion about the things we do every day which cause some members of the team to feel awkward, less valued and less able to deliver their best.

Micro-aggressions, patronising and discriminatory behaviour happens to women and to men. And it is not acceptable. Whatever your gender, if you witness or experience behaviours that make you or your colleague feel uncomfortable: Call It Out, Challenge It and Change It. If you spot yourself making a mistake: stop, apologise, learn from it and don’t repeat it.

Picture of Jo Strain - wearing olive green blouse and matching jacketHow you are changing things in your workplace? Could this be featured in a future blog?  Email me.

Blog by Jo Strain, CMI Southern Board WiM, Diversity and Inclusion Champion

Key CMI resources to support you and your organisation

CMIWomen initiative– this is one of a number of CMI programmes to encourage fairness and equality of opportunity in management and leadership, offers research and resources to enable individuals and organisations to change the status quo.

CMI’s Blueprint for Balance resources – provide practical support to improve diversity in the workplace.

> CMI’s Blueprint for Balance: Broken Windows full report – this research charts employers’ current approaches to achieving gender balance and showcases the best-in-class practices that are starting to achieve real change. The report also highlights the remaining gap between rhetoric and reality.

CMI’s satirical ‘Inequality: a How To Guide’ – this tongue-in-cheek video shows a small sample of macro and micro aggressions faced by women daily. Comedian Stevie Martin and actor Thom Tuck bring gender stereotypes to life by acting out discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Watch it once to see the overt behaviours and then again to spot all the subtle behaviours which undermine Thom’s confidence and authority.