Being that it is Women’s History Month, and we are celebrating Women’s Print HERstory month all month long at Girls Who Print, it seemed only fitting and timely to write this. At times you may feel that the piece sounds bossy. You may find me aggressive and snarky and just plain mean. You might wish that if you could talk to me in person right now, you would tell me to smile more or to just lighten up.
Ah. Yes. That is exactly why I have to write this piece right now or my head is going to explode. I need to tell men some things about how some of you are behaving in the workplace, and how some of you might not even realize it. I want to extend you that benefit of the doubt right now. Because I am no shrew, and I am no militant either. But what I am is fed up.
What follows is a partial list of ways that you can alter your behavior and the way your brain sometimes works, because I know a lot of what happens is not overt and it is not conscious. But it is happening, and if you want to be part of the solution to the problem of workplace inequity, you will start to recognize it in your own behaviors, and gracefully help your colleagues see it and address it in theirs.
• If you wouldn’t say it or observe it about a man, stop doing it/saying it/thinking it about a woman. Remarks about appearance and what someone is wearing. Compliments about an ability that is most commonly recognized as feminine. If you are not going to tell Mark in desktop how great he looks in red, DO NOT say it to Sally. Do not always ask your female counterparts to plan the parties, buy the gifts, or coordinate the fun committee.
• Pay people equally. If you have two people doing the same job, make sure they are getting paid the same. There is not a lot to say about this.
• Extend family care benefits to your male employees and make it widely known that you support the concept of a man staying home to care for a sick child. These duties disproportionately fall to women, so you can do your part to remedying that by supporting your working dads.
• Commit to seeking out, hiring, developing and promoting more women than you are right now. The graphic arts industry is woefully behind the embarrassingly low overall statistics for women in positions of leadership in the US. Google it.
• If you see something, say something. If you hear a colleague, be it a peer, superior or someone who reports to you saying or doing something you know to be problematic, address it, and right away. You can be kind and sensitive about this. In fact, the best way to deal with it might just be to say something like, “Hey Mike, you may not just realize what you did there, but you just introduced 6 male executives extolling the virtues of their hard work and accomplishments, and then introduced the ONE woman and remarked about how she always looks so fashionable. I want to make you aware of it so that in the future you can think about what you say more consciously and fairly.” No fights, so accusations. Just the facts.
• Consider hiring some outside training help to address the issues of fairness in the workplace and get a fresh perspective. A quick Google search turned up DIY resources as well as plenty of companies that are poised to help you with this. If you are not the top decision maker at your company, consider encouraging your owners and managers to invest in training. And soon.
My greatest wish for the future is that my daughters, who are 9 now, do not have to even consider the possibility of being treated differently in the workplace than their younger brothers or male colleagues. Steps you take today to change the trajectory of gender inequity today will pay off for all of us, and I for one would really appreciate it. Sincerely.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How