Why Women Are Less Heard At Work (And What To Do About It)

Women and minorities sometimes find it difficult to voice their opinions at work. Some women get constantly interrupted while others worry that their idea won’t be taken seriously. Research shows that women speak less than men in the workplace, with women in leadership roles often perceived as abrasive for speaking their mind.

In an era of mostly virtual meetings, the situation hasn’t improved. In fact, a survey by Catalyst, a nonprofit that helps women move into leadership positions, shows that one in five women feel ignored or overlooked in video calls. Three out of five women employees feel less confident about getting a raise or promotion in their new remote work environment.

Regina Borsellino, a writer for The Muse, has some ideas on how women and minorities can change the dialogue and make their voices heard. We share her ideas in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Let go of being liked. Women often want to be seen as friendly and agreeable. To keep the peace at work, they may hesitate to disagree. The female sales reps on your team may worry that others will find them unlikable—especially if your team is mostly men. However, women should remember that there is a distinction between being liked and being respected. While it’s nice to be liked, it isn’t going to help you reach your goals if it means you don’t share your thoughts and opinions, notes Borsellino.

Plan ahead. Another way women can make sure their voices are heard is to think about what they want to say. For example, if your sales meetings typically include a portion of time for employees to share what’s on their minds, encourage your female sales reps to use that opportunity to speak up. It also helps to plan for pushback, so employees are ready with a response to any potential objections.

Speak powerfully. The women on your team make valuable contributions and should always feel empowered to speak up. You can coach your female sales reps to do this by eliminating phrases such as “I think” or “I feel like.” Instead, get right to the point. It’s also a good idea to remove filler words such as “like” and “um.” When you speak concisely and self-confidently, people will notice.

Watch the delivery. Women can also be sure their voices are heard at work by paying attention to how they say their message. For example, employees who may speak unsurely or fidget with their hands while addressing the group may struggle to capture attention. Help the women on your team use the right volume, tone and pacing to ensure their message is heard.

Collaborate with other women. Encourage the women on your team to seek out the input and opinions of women they respect. This could be a sponsorship-type relationship, says Borsellino, or extra support in situations that may be difficult to be heard, such as during meetings or presentations.

For there to be true equity in the workplace, everyone’s voices need to be heard. You can help the women on your team speak up by coaching them to use powerful words and to think about what they want to say in advance. You can also remind your female team members to pay attention to how they communicate and encourage them to create support systems with each other.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Regina Borsellino is a writer for The Muse.

filed under March 2021
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