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For Women in the Workplace Perception is Reality

Workplace discrimination remains a significant problem for a large segment of the workplace, according to recent data. Regardless of policies that may be in place to prevent gender discrimination, the fact that many women perceive discriminatory behavior towards women in the workplace should cause concern for business leaders. With women making up close to 47 percent of the workforce, businesses risk alienating and missing out on potential star employees if their workplaces are seen as less than welcoming to women.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center covered in an article by Kim Parker and Cary Funk found that 42 percent of working women in the United States say they have faced some form of gender discrimination on the job. The survey was conducted between July 11 and August 10, 2017 and polled a nationally representative sample of 4,914 adults. Respondents were asked whether they had experienced one of eight forms of discrimination:

  • Earned less than a woman/man doing the same job

  • Were treated as if they were not competent

  • Experienced repeated, small slights at work

  • Received less support from senior leaders than a woman/man doing the same job

  • Been passed over for the most important assignments

  • Felt isolated in the workplace

  • Been denied a promotion

  • Been turned down for a job

In terms of specific findings, Parker and Funk report that, “[w]omen are roughly four times as likely as men to say they have been treated as if they were not competent because of their gender (23% of employed women versus 6% of men), and they are about three times as likely as men to say they have experienced repeated small slights at work because of their gender (16% versus 5%).”

The survey relies on self-reporting of experiences of past discrimination, and some could argue that the results may not reflect the true frequency of workplace gender discrimination. But the important part here is perception. If women perceive they are not being treated fairly in the workplace, they may very well look for opportunities at what they perceive to be a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

And that means companies that are perceived otherwise risk missing out on nearly half of the available workforce talent. What perceptions may be hindering your ability to attract top talent in 2018? Be inclusive!

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