As an expert in the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion space, we strive to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. We spoke to Kirsty Lancaster about her experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and her perspective on how we can continue to provide top notch support and empowerment for both clients and individuals in the workplace. Grab a cuppa, you’re going to enjoy this!
The dictionary definition of equality:
noun: equality; plural noun: equalities
- the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.
“an organisation aiming to promote racial equality”
“Let’s skip to the good bit…
As a woman fresh out of the construction and logistics industry, I know what it feels like to exist in a workplace that wasn’t exactly designed with you in mind. So, nothing makes me prouder than seeing the steady rise of businesses committing to creating more inclusive, equitable workplaces.
However, there has been something niggling me for some time now about some businesses’ approach to gender equity, that I’ve only recently been able to put my finger on. That is, some of the same workplaces that boast gender inclusivity networks, a full ED&I calendar and healthy guest speaker budget for International Women’s Day, do not acknowledge the most basic needs of their female at birth (FAB) colleagues. I am talking about gender-equity bodge jobs.
I recently sat on an apprenticeship training course where I came across a slide on ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, something I have seen several times before, but had never really looked at in the same way as I did that day. It just hit me out of nowhere; that pyramid fully explains where I believe businesses are going wrong in their Equity, Diversity & Inclusion strategy.
For those of you who are not familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is a psychological model that seeks to explain what human beings need to thrive. Needs that are lower down the hierarchy must be satisfied before the needs that are on the higher tiers. For simplicity, the pyramid can be split into deficiency needs (those that must be satisfied for basic survival) and growth needs (those that are needed to your full potential).
With nothing but a scrap of paper and one of my stepson’s Star Wars pens, I began to construct what this reimagined hierarchy would look like (Part of me would love to take full credit and say that this is the original – but my colleague Scarlett Colson is the talent behind this awesome infographic)
What Scarlett & I are trying to illustrate is that well-intentioned efforts to fast-track businesses on their way to gender equitable workplaces could be doing women a disservice. Why? Because we are given the promotion but paid less than our male counterparts. We are given access to quality networking opportunities but leave early because our period has arrived unexpectedly. We are paired with a mentor, but do not feel psychologically safe talking to them about the invisible barriers that are holding us back in the organisation. We reach senior leadership level but are perceived as incompetent and forced out of our roles due to lack of menopause understanding and support. We are set up to fail.
So, in your Equality, Diversity & Inclusion efforts, before skipping to the good bit, ask yourself, how can a woman ever truly feel that she belongs if her most basic needs are not catered for in her workplace? Now, this isn’t to say that you need to wait until you have fully completed the bottom tiers of the hierarchy before even thinking about the rest – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a picture of Maslow before, but he looks like a pretty laid-back guy. But do not ignore those brilliant basics in your ED&I strategies – you will thank us later.”Have you thought about where you and your company sit in terms of ED&I, and if you are skipping steps or are you covering all basis’? If you need support to step up your game and ensure your organisation has an equal and diverse community, we can help you to empower individuals become their best selves and in turn, provide a lower turnover, higher moral and productivity, improved staff retention rates, and all-round positive work experience for everyone involved. Contact us today to get started!