Birmingham leadership development program tackling gender disparity in the workplace

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There are many challenges stemming from culture and past history that are not unique to women, yet they are almost universally experienced by women. Here are some examples:

Image via HR Recruiter

  • I think what she means is …
  • If you were familiar with industry standards you’d know …
  • You know what you should do is …
  • Are you sure you’re prepared to take this on?
  • Are you planning to come back to work after you have children?
  • That’s a beautiful blouse, and what’s inside ain’t bad either.

You can be a guy and receive similar condescending treatment, and other minority groups experience this type of not-so-subtle bias, too. But, for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on men working with women. Regardless of whom the target is, undervaluing human capital affects us all.

Men who work with women, manage teams with women, are sons of working women, are married to working women or who have a customer base of women (which covers just about everyone) are all impacted when those same women earn less, are recognized less, are promoted less or purchase less because society values them less

If I am a teenage boy, and my mom earns 20% less than the dad of the kid next door for the same job, that stinks for me.

If I am a husband to a career woman and the kind of partner who splits caring for our kids 50/50, when my wife gets passed over for a promotion because the boss doesn’t think a mom will be willing to travel, that stinks for our net income.

If I’m a guy who manages a sales team of half men and half women, but the men in our market don’t trust business advice from a woman, my overall sales will suffer. That stinks for me.

On March 16 Momentum, a prestigious leadership development program for women, will host a breakfast event to discuss some of the root causes of gender disparity in leadership positions.

A gender diversity expert from Catalyst will deliver the keynote, followed by an interactive Q&A. The event sold out weeks in advance, with 500 attendees eager to learn about the timely topic of gender disparity in the workplace.

Momentum recently conducted research on women leadership in Alabama, and the numbers don’t lie. Here are some key findings as of November 2016:

  • Women comprise 20% of statewide elected office.
  • Women make up 2 out of 7 in our US congressional delegation.
  • Women are almost 13% of the standing committees in Alabama’s legislature.
  • The number of women in local elected governmental offices has dropped from 25% in 2006 to 19% in 2016.
  • Of the top 10 public companies in Alabama, the average percentage of female executive members is 16.5%.

It’s good to know that the Birmingham business community wants a dialogue on men, women and leadership. With greater awareness about the simple measures businesses can take to avoid unintended bias, we can make progress.

With organizations like Momentum, area employers have a resource to get skill-based training to retain and promote top talent.  The more we open ourselves to the discussion, the faster we can find solutions that will help better our businesses, communities, and economy.