5 things to #BettertheBalance

As I start my second chapter at Ericsson, I can feel the excitement for the future in my bones. The future is exciting! Even though I wish for some parts to be closer to reality.

Natalie Mellin

According to the World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap Report 2018, a gender-balanced future seems to be getting just further and further away. In fact, at the current rate of change, the data suggests that it will take 108 years to close the overall gender gap and 202 years to bring about parity in the workplace. This is just not enough; the progress is going just too slow. We all need to step up. Essentially, we all need to Better the Balance, to better the world.

So I sat down with a few colleagues to gather some practical ideas of what we all can do to Better the Balance. I believe in agility and testing things out. I believe in the strength of something small that can with iteration become something big.

wireframe sketch

So, here it is. Here are 5 small things we came up with – things you can do not just on International Women's Day but every day. With your experiences, ideas, and feedback, let's see if we can make it into something big.

  1. Ask for specific's
    According to a study, women who negotiate are more likely to receive feedback that says they are 'intimidating,' 'too aggressive', or 'bossy'. On the contrary, men are usually told that they have good leadership skills while women receive feedback on needing to soften their approach.
    What you can do: If you see this happening, request for a specific example of what she did and perhaps even ask, "Would you have had the same reaction if a man did the same thing?"
  2. Recognize accomplishments
    When women celebrate their achievements, they are often penalized for self-promotion. As a result, a women's contributions can go unnoticed. Not to mention that it gets even more complicated when considering different cultural micro processes and backgrounds.
    What you can do: In everyday conversations, performance reviews, meetings - go out of your way to recognize women for their achievements.
  3. Interrupt less
    According to a study titled 'Sex Roles, Interruptions and Silences in Conversations', women are more likely to be interrupted during meetings not just by men but also by other women.
    What you can do: If this happens to one of your colleagues, why not just interject and say you'd like to hear her finish her bit first. You may also look for ways to shape the conversation so you can come back to the person who was interrupted at a later stage.
  4. Set a personal goal
    We have all heard, "what gets measured, gets done".
    Why not decide on a personal goal? Maybe you are a manager of a team and would like to improve the team's demographical diversity? Maybe you can set a goal of reading at least one new article on this topic a week. Whatever you decide, make sure you set a deadline for your goal, so that you can go back and audit what works and see what may need to be improved further.
  5. Confront your own unconscious bias
    As humans, we are biased. The effects of bias make headlines every day, not just when it comes to gender inequality, but on a range of long-standing inequalities we have. Still, only a few of us are willing to admit how big of a role it can play.
    What can you do: Dare to see and ask yourself. Who are you? What are your unconscious biases? What are the benefits and advantages of being you? Let's use our privilege to elevate each other.

So, there it is. Those were the 5 'small' things we came up with. Let's hear what you think about how we can all #BalanceforBetter.

To find out more about what Ericsson is doing as an organization for gender equality, read more here.

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