In this lesson we will consider the influence of gender on workplace environments. The following two short versions of a board meeting are presented for you to compare and draw your own conclusions.
The eye of the beholder features clearly in these meetings. The same meeting, the same issues, the same words—but spoken by two people one male, one female. Take a moment to reflect on why the perspective of the co-workers is so different.
Verbal communication is only a part of how people interact with each other. Differences in the way people interact may have nothing to do with any language barrier. They may be culturally influenced, dependent on how women and men interact in someone’s home culture, and whether their previous workplace culture encouraged equality and respect across all roles and levels of seniority.
These cultural norms can be adjusted in a new environment, and we can give our employees the chance to think through such issues. It is important that we check our own biases as well. For example, if we are impatient with an employee who is silent, we should consider that this may be a sign of respect in their culture. We should realize that our behaviours and attitudes may reflect our own assumptions about the “best” way to do things.