Your “dirty” joke that makes everyone laugh is not okay.
Sharing that "overly attached girlfriend" meme on Slack is not okay.
Leaving women out of conversations before the meeting in favor of “bromance” is not okay.
If you see these things happening and don't speak up, guess what? That's not okay either.
And a workplace culture that does not provide a safe space to speak up is definitely not okay.
Everyday sexism is real. While we must still combat against sexual harassment, there are also many unwanted behaviors that go unnoticed.
Women are often interrupted during meetings, and when they share ideas, they may seek confirmation from male colleagues. They might feel the need to justify their accomplishments, as some may believe that they only got their positions to increase diversity numbers, not based on their own merit and performance. Women working in traditionally male positions are often labeled as uncaring towards their families or as being too masculine.
We can keep counting many other unacceptable behaviors and biases that we might be witnessing but not noticing every single day.
And women of color, women of a certain age, trans women, and queer women face even greater challenges, as sexism intensifies with racism, ageism, homophobia, and transphobia.
What should you do?
Educate yourself and educate others.
If you think you're bias-free, you're probably wrong. Words and phrases we use and our judgements based on limited information can be full of biases. Especially, humour might be really dangerous in that sense.
We, as individuals and companies, should educate ourselves and others about biases. It's crucial to keep learning and point out things we see as problematic at the workplace.
What do we do at Sievo?
- We provide two compulsory training sessions during our onboarding process: one on "Diversity and Inclusion" and the other on “Harassment and Unwanted Behavior Awareness”. Our goal is to help Seivonians identify and avoid disrespectful and unwanted behaviors, even if they have good intentions.
- We have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) made up of volunteer Sievonians from diverse backgrounds. These groups ensure that our internal communication and workplace culture are inclusive.
- We have two harassment contacts in each of our locations (Helsinki, Bucharest, and Chicago). Sievonians can approach these people if they face or witness harassment or unwanted behavior. If people do not feel comfortable talking to their manager or People team members, they can get in touch with these contacts confidentially.
- We conduct an annual Diversity and Inclusion survey to identify areas where we can improve and to give Sievonians a way to anonymously report possible problems.
During March we highlighted the challenges that women face in business in honor of Women's History Month. You can check our previous post where we discussed equal pay, leadership gender gap, and lack of role models.
As individuals and as companies, we must keep asking ourselves the toughest questions and commit to creating a safe workplace for everyone, because anything less is simply not okay.