Making fairness and equality a personal objective

Published

November 29, 2018

Marian ‐ Head of Delivery

Being a woman in the male dominated tech world has its perks. I have been part of predominantly male groups like this for most of my life and I am totally ok with that. Actually… I still am a woman amongst men in most areas of my life: at home and at work.

What I am not ok with, is the fact that people are being treated unfairly because they’re women. The gender pay gap, the glass ceiling, women being demoted or fired when they get pregnant; incidents like this are sadly still the reality in the workplace and we have to change that.

There are several things that I do that I hope will make some change in the world. I use these principles at work, at home and as a mother.

I don’t hold back

If you’ve been told that others are supposed to be smarter and stronger than you, you will have unconsciously adopted a behaviour of holding back and making yourself smaller than you really are. Too many women suffer from this behaviour, and not enough men. Being humble is a virtue, but there’s no need to undersell yourself. Show what you can do and be proud of it. Don’t hold back.

hackaton-2

I make a point of amplifying others’ voices

The voices of minorities are sometimes muted when key personalities dominate the boardroom. Even when they do speak out loud, it might happen that no one responds to what they are saying. When you identify this behaviour, amplify their words by reiterating the source: “As Jane just pointed out…” Female staffers in President Obama’s office adopted this strategy and forced others in the room to recognise and credit the source of a good idea. It’s something small you can do that can have a significant impact. When people do this for me, it is affirming and so incredibly empowering and encouraging. I make a point of doing this for others as well.

I try to look for patterns

What if four female staff members, who are fulfilling the same role in a company, are being paid less than men in the same role, with the same experience? Maybe that’s a coincidence, but if there is not obvious reason for this coincidence, don’t make assumptions. Ask questions and investigate. Only by evaluating what’s happened can we learn how to do better in the future. So if you want to improve your immediate surroundings, start looking for patterns. Maybe it’s nothing, but at least check it out. Better be safe than sorry.

I try to act with integrity

Find your moral compass and live by it. Bravery, courtesy and honor are not outdated concepts. Have the courage to speak up when you notice someone is being hurt by a sexist (or homophobic, ageist or racist) joke. Have the courtesy to listen to people, even if you doubt whether they are an authority on the subject they speak about. You may be surprised! And finally have the honor to stand up for what you believe in.

I try to lead by example

One of the most impactful forms of influencing the world around you is by being an example. Use the opportunities you have to be a role model of fairness and equality, for your children, for your co-workers or your students. Teach about compassion and courage by acting them out in real life.

As former Scrum Master (now Head of Delivery at WORTH), and as someone who ardently supports the agile process in all aspects of life, I say: don’t worry if you get it wrong. Apologise, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

womensmaller

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