Majority of women do not feel 'believed' on gender inequality

11 September 2019 4 min. read
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The majority of men believe that women are treated equally in the workplace, while only 31% have experienced a co-worker being treated unfairly because of her gender, according to a new survey. This contrasts sharply with the experience of women, 51% of whom state they want to “be believed” when discussing inequality in future.

Removing barriers in the workplace to increase diversity continues to be a focus for large businesses globally. Progress so far has been slow, with entrenched biases proving hard to overcome: gender diversity in management has barely improved by 1% in the last 10 years, while at present just 15% of CEO roles are held by women. Despite the glass ceiling proving hard to crack, however, corporate entities remain hostile to regulation or diversity quotas.

This is not to say that firms are ignoring the matter. As it stands more than 75% of firms are taking some form of action to promote gender diversity in their business, but the majority favour less ‘intrusive’ measures. However, these are precisely the tactics that at present have delivered so little movement on gender equality in the workplace.

The elephant in the room here seems to be that men tend to dominate top positions at businesses, and subsequently seem to find it difficult to see anything wrong with the state of affairs that has benefitted them to date. According to a new study from Roar Training, the male perspective of gender inequality in the workplace is muddled at best.

Majority of women do not feel 'believed' on gender inequality

Data from over 600 male and female respondents from a broad cross section of workplaces, cultures and levels of seniority found that 91% of men believe gender equality at work is important. However, just 71% of those polled stated they were taking proactive action on the matter to help change their place of employment for the better.

While having seven in every ten men working proactively toward equality might seem high, meanwhile, what these individuals perceive as being enough is likely to vary wildly. When asked how the opportunities offered to women at work differed from men, 10% said they believed women were offered more opportunities to progress than men. Furthermore, 64% of men said they think women get the same level of opportunities as them already. Only 31% said they had seen female colleagues treated unfairly in their place of employment.

This not only contradicts the idea that only 9% of male staff see equality as an issue that needs to be achieved, but suggests that the ‘proactive action’ which a number of these individuals allege they are participating in is unlikely to be particularly substantial. After all, if there is a level playing field already, how proactive could a man be in ensuring women have equal opportunities in work?

The male respondents' views do not match up with women, 54% of whom told Roar Training that they felt gender had negatively impacted upon their career progression. A further 56% said when they had been treated unfairly at work, and no male co-worker had supported them, further suggesting that many men in the workplace are encountering inequality, but are either oblivious to it, or ignoring it.

In order to address this, a staggering 92% of women said they wanted to have an open dialogue on gender equality, where issues can be addressed together, discussed on a case-by-case basis. However, male colleagues remain hostile to this apparently, as a majority of women also said that when they discuss or report inequality, they feel a general sense of wanting to "be believed."

Commenting on the findings Kirsty Hulse, Founder of Roar Training said, "The route to both achieving gender parity in the workplace, and ensuring those within businesses feel their is a commitment to this is undoubtedly nuanced, complex and subjective. This research suggests there is an agreed starting point when addressing the issue of gender equality in the workplace… The most effective male allies are those whom discuss openly their biases, actively listen to their female coworkers and ask how their female colleagues would best like to address these issues."