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Conscious “excluders,” who despite various corporate interventions, continue to treat some folks differently due to their social group membership, may help explain the recent stagnation in progress toward gender equality in organizational leadership.
Excluders disadvantage women’s employment opportunities, perpetuating inequality in various ways. This exclusion isn’t exclusive to gender diversity.
These five practices can detect the bad apples who exclude women, mothers, childfree women, people with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic minorities, mature employees, LGBTQ+ persons, etc.
Excluders disadvantage women’s employment opportunities, perpetuating inequality in various ways:
Disadvantage in hiring and promotions: The bias that can negatively affect an individual applicant’s hiring or promotion success comes in two forms: Direct bias caused by a hiring manager’s bias affecting their own decision, or indirect bias caused by channelling the bias of another.
Work-family policies: Comments like those of the board member above inform a company’s work-family policies, their use, and reactions to their use throughout the company via top-down influence and behaviour.
The practice of exclusion should be visible and include specific individual behaviors (e.g., inviting the same, incomplete part of a team for lunch or after-work drinks) and organizational behaviors. The repeated action proves the wrong practice, and can therefore be dealt with appropriately by the managers
Contacting candidates’ references can often reveal excluders before they make it into your company. You can also ask candidates to write or speak about their specific experience with and approach to working with individuals from diverse communities, as well as how they might foster inclusion at work and in their teams.
Clear, measurable criteria and accountability are key here. Accurate, up-to-date data can be integrated into 360 performance reviews alongside assessments of other organizationally relevant KPIs and used to identify potential excluders in their annual performance reviews.
Reward inclusive leaders with incentives and recognition, such as highlighting them as role models within the organization, publicly recognizing or celebrating inclusive behaviors and practices, or linking specific inclusive behavior to bonuses.
For example, The Lego Group tracks, promotes and celebrates some of these leadership initiatives.
Use anonymous hotlines for “exclusion” whistleblowers to facilitate confidential reports of exclusionary acts — perhaps particularly when perpetrated by leaders — because those who speak up to intervene often face backlash.
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