The need for inclusion is important, no matter where one goes. When it comes to the world of work, fair inclusion of individuals from different socio-cultural backgrounds isn’t always the reality. To fight such systemic challenges, several organizations across the globe have prioritized inclusionary measures such as diversity and equity across teams and departments. Many have even made the principles of diversity and inclusion mandatory in the way they structure their teams or onboard new members.
While gender barriers at work have been addressed in multiple ways over the years, certain limitations still exist when it comes to communication. Different gender barriers of communication prevent people of different genders from working together effectively.
Gender Barriers Of Communication: Basics
Gender barriers of communication are the result of the different ways in which the various genders communicate with one another and are expected to communicate. Gender stereotypes, assumed gender roles and interpersonal differences can lead to unhealthy communication gaps. It’s important to remember that the onus of overcoming the gap doesn’t always lie with one gender. Everyone, including the organization as a whole, needs to be a part of the conversation to make a tangible difference.
Here are different types of gender barriers in the workplace that prevent employees from fully engaging and communicating with one another:
Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas of someone or something. They are biases that prevent people from thinking clearly, leading them to jump to hasty conclusions. People of every gender and social identity communicate differently. However, people may often base their impressions on a single interaction. For example, there is a stereotype where people presume that women are always soft-spoken. However, when women speak their minds, their assertiveness gets mistaken for arrogance. Such gender barriers manifest themselves in unhealthy ways and can impact workplace culture negatively.
2. Gender Expectations
Expectations from someone’s gender identity often contribute to the formation of gender barriers at work. Different genders have different ways in which they use facial expressions, gestures and other non-verbal cues. However, people expect them to behave in a particular way because of their gender. Expected gender roles come into play here. For example, senior male leaders of an organization are expected to be highly assertive, speak loudly and have a confident stride, always. Such expectations are unhealthy as people get confined to societal roles and when they don’t meet such demands, they may be looked down upon.
Here is an example of gender barrier that’ll shed light on how grave the matter is:
Priya comes from a small town where men and women don’t talk to each other freely. At her new job, she has been teamed up with Kunal, an outgoing individual who has always been surrounded by women, whether it’s his family or friend circles. Priya has a difficult time opening up and sharing her ideas freely with Kunal while he is trying his best to collaborate with her. Kunal feels free to call Priya up even at night and over time, Priya becomes more and more uncomfortable, moving away from Kunal.
In this example of gender barrier in communication, while Priya was held back by her socio-cultural beliefs, Kunal could’ve used another approach for collaboration without making her feel uncomfortable. The bottom line is that gender barriers matter and need to be unlearned for individuals to take equal advantage of opportunities.
Overcoming Gender Barriers In Communication
As already established, individuals have the responsibility of unlearning gender barriers by moving away from stereotypes and social expectations, organizations need to participate as well. To break gender barriers at work, businesses need to have policies in place that hold everyone accountable. From hiring processes to networking initiatives, the goal should be to make every space and opportunity inclusive. Employees come from different walks of life and not everyone will have the same experiences or knowledge about things. It’s important to educate them and help them unlearn negative knowledge and practices.
If you want your employees to achieve transformative behavioral outcomes, try Harappa’s Confident Communication Program. Not only will they learn to articulate well but also synthesize ideas better. They’ll actively listen for facts, emotions and specific needs. They’ll use appropriate pace, tone and body language to communicate positively. Effective communication is critical to the success of any organization. Schedule a demo with Harappa today!
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