Addressing and correcting gender-bias issues in the workplace

The #MeToo movement has sparked a dialog about sexual harassment in workplaces throughout Tennessee and across the country. It's a movement that has broadened to include discussions about all forms of sexual discrimination in the workplace, including so-called "micro-inequities." These are subtle gender-based biases that are often difficult to prove. Such instances can include spotlighting achievements of male workers and downplaying similar efforts by female employees. Body language, vocal tone and gestures can also be part of less obvious forms of gender-bias.

While it is possible for perceived workplace discrimination to be unintentional, it can become a problem if it's a regular pattern that affects an employee's ability to feel comfortable doing their job. When an employee suspects subtle forms of bias, they might talk to co-workers to see if off-putting behaviors are specifically targeted more at women more than men. It's entirely possible for a boss, supervisor, manager or senior colleague to have a generally negative or condescending tone toward everyone regardless of gender, which is something that can be addressed in a different way.

In some cases, subtle bias may be correctable be equally subtle actions that point out the problem. If the issue is female team members being constantly interrupted in meetings, for example, a woman might say "Let me finish" to indicate that such behavior isn't appropriate or appreciated. Doing so might inspire other employees to speak up. When bias is suspected and the problem isn't being acknowledged, an employee might bring up the offending behavior to the individual in a non-confrontational way. Doing so can give the offender a chance to explain their behavior or express a sincere desire to make adjustments.

It may be necessary for an employee to discuss instances of harassment or bias with human resources. Most companies have procedures in place to investigate and deal with such matters. If an acceptable resolution isn't possible or workplace discrimination continues, an employment attorney may be able to take legal actions related to the issue. A lawyer might also address workplace discrimination affecting hiring practices, compensation, promotions and treatment on the job.

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