Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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60 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 8 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Conversations with Catalyst T he theme of this year's Diversity Woman confer- ence, "100 Years Is Too Long For Gender Equality," expresses the impatience that many of us feel regarding the slow path toward achieving gender equal- ity in the workplace—particularly as it is felt more explicitly among women of color, who experience "double outsider" status. So what's holding up progress for women, and what can be done about it? We know that unconscious bias is a major challenge facing women both inside and outside the workplace. To address the effect of unconscious bias on women's ca- reer potential, many companies are spon- soring unconscious bias training for lead- ers and managers. Yet, what is becoming more prevalent today is not unconscious bias, but the revival of overt, explicit bias. Explicit bias can be understood to include misogynistic treatment of women, such as sexual harassment, assault, and efforts to take away women's reproductive rights. e women who bear the brunt of explicit bias tend to be lower-wage workers. While the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment of women has made these issues discussable, it is concerning that, in the national discourse on sexual harassment, women working in lower- wage jobs are often overlooked. However, there is a ray of hope for lower-wage working women: the recently developed anti–sexual harassment campaign, Our Time, sponsored by the National Coun- cil for Occupational Safety and Health. Among lower-wage workers, Latina farmworkers, in particular, suffer high rates of sexual assault. e coalition also includes janitors and factory workers. e alliance will advocate for protections against sexual harassment and abuse in union contracts, state laws, municipal Katherine Giscombe, PhD ordinances, and company policies. Lower-wage-earning women also bear the brunt of changing national policy norms regarding reproduc- tive rights. Recent policy shifts have resulted in the ability of employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception. Employers can claim exemptions from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections. A stated rationale for limiting access to birth control for women is the belief that expanding birth control access encourages risky sexual behavior, a false argument that ignores studies that have proven otherwise. e use of subjective, irrational criteria to strip women of their reproductive rights is disturbing and signals growing misogyny within our society. Women who work for large corpora- tions will probably not be affected by these policy changes on reproductive rights, given the awareness that sophis- ticated CEOs of major companies have regarding company image. Lower-wage- earning women, however, are more vulnerable given that they are more likely to work for smaller operations. Societal norms shape the context for what happens in the workplace, and it will take a concerted effort to overcome the creeping misogyny that seems to be part of the fabric of today's society. Busi- ness leaders must speak out against the diminution of the rights of women—all women—while ensuring that their com- mitment to advancing women in their organizations remains strong. Only then does gender equality in the workplace stand a chance. DW Katherine Giscombe, PhD, is Catalyst's Vice President and Women of Color Practitioner, Global Member Services. The women who bear the brunt of explicit bias tend to be lower-wage workers Point of View > ABOUT CATALYST Catalyst is a global non- profit working with some of the world's most powerful CEOs and lead- ing companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with pioneering re- search, practical tools, and proven solutions to accel- erate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone. catalyst.org Gender Equality and Lower-Wage Woman Workers

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