While almost all organizations agree that appropriate sensitivity has increased around sexism, very few have defined what it means to their organization, nor have they created policies to prevent potential issues. One of the more common mistakes that employers make is failing to react to or recognize the difference between what we at Ignitor refer to as overt and covert sexism. We educate our clients to recognize the difference between the two and prevent both, as they often manifest in very different forms.
Types of Sexism in the Workplace
Overt sexism commonly refers to situations where females are not paid equally as men for doing the same job, or when a man blatantly mistreats a female in the workplace. These are the headlines we read about that result in lawsuits and large settlements.
Covert sexism tends to be much more difficult to recognize and can have just as much of a negative impact on a company. Often, it is so ingrained in a company culture that it passes by unnoticed. Covert sexism may take many forms including, but not limited to, the following:
A failure to invite, include, or recognize female colleagues in a meeting while doing the opposite with male colleagues
Permitting or contributing to a culture that permits "harmless" sexist jokes
The difference in treatment between male and female colleagues with the same level of responsibility
Neglecting to invite female colleagues to a golf outing or traditionally male-dominated activities outside of the office
Not including female colleagues in business decisions where their role requires them to have a voice
Explaining business plans or communicating to a female colleague in a patronizing or condescending way (“mansplaining”)
Utilizing dominance to derail a conversation with a female associate to achieve an objective
Failing to recognize that different styles of leadership and communication are equally valuable and, thereby, criticizing styles typically favoured by females or rewarding more aggressive styles typically favoured by men
Marginalizing the talents or abilities of female colleagues or leaders
Addressing Sexism with Executive Coaching
If you are a talented and struggling female leader and require executive coaching on how to address and manage such adversity, our female leadership coaches are not only experienced in such matters but have lived through them as executives themselves. We also understand that recognizing what can and will change is half of the battle, and sometimes, this can be the most difficult step to achieve.
At Ignitor Leadership Development, our clients find it not only relieving but extremely productive when they invite us to the table to assist in beginning this delicate and often intimidating conversation. In addition to one-to-one executive coaching, we are regularly asked to assess and improve any of the following as it pertains to sexism:
Executive Leadership, Management or Staff Culture
Internal investigation claims that have the potential to turn into costly legal claims or litigation
Corrective action for existing leadership or staff behaviours
Company-wide training and development
Internal mindset shift coaching where belief systems are appropriately challenged
Assessment of the current environment
Requiring diversity training as a method of improving culture or strengthening leadership relationships can improve company performance. Our clients contact us regularly to assist them as internal consultants that can work on issues from the ground up to understand what needs to improve and how to achieve your objectives.
For more about our executive coaching program and how we deal with sexism in the workplace, be sure to contact us today.