Do you know why women at work are angry? Do you why women in YOUR workplace are angry? Do you know how many women in your workplace are angry? Do you know what the consequenes of womens anger is?
These questions and more are important to consider when leaders are thinking about their workplace culture. The Australian Financial Review published an article called “2021 was the year that women roared”. The article said women in Australia collectively said enough is enough in 2021.
Some Women at Work Roared
We’ve seen some high profile women roar on behalf of themselves and others about the treatment of women in workplaces. Women like Brittany Higgins, Christine Holgate, Julia Banks, the women of Rio Tinto, AMP and countless others have raised their voices to highlight the sheer lack of respect that women in workplaces still endure.
Whilst we have seen organisations called out for their systematic ignorance of the lived experience of women at work, and we have seen invididual women on the front pages of newspapers, the nightly news or splashed across social media, most women will not have their experience in the workplace highlighted. Those experiences will include discrimination, bullying, harassment, unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault. The sort of lived workplace experience that will harm women for a lifetime and contribute to a continuing toxic workplace culture. Women also experience the insidious, casual everyday sexism and discrimination called microggressions.
Disrespect at Work is Ubiquitous
Disrespect towards womenat work shows up in all sorts of ways. Daily, or intradaily microagressions make women angry, frustrated, sad and erode their sense of belonging and wellbeing in the workplace. Disrespect itowards women in the workplace is ubiquitious. Why just today a woman told me this:
I was introduced to a new employee by an male peer as being ‘in charge of accounts’. I am the CFO of a privately owned company with strategic and operational responsibilities across finance, legal, HR, IT and for the familys wealth.
In one thoughtless statement he demoted me to an ‘accounts person’.
Women at Work and The Death of a Thousand Cuts
Microagressions and everyday discrimination are pervasive and it feels like a death of a thousand cuts to women. See if you recognise any of these statements which women have shared that they experience, day in and day out:
One of the managers continually calls me ‘love’ each time he speaks to me, but addresses my male colleagues by name
I am assigned the office party to organise every Christmas. When I asked the boss for one of my peers to step up, he said ‘but women are just so much better at this stuff’
I asked to speak to my manager about something important. He said he didnt have time. I saw him 5 minutes later shooting the breeze with one of the other men in the office about the latest football game
I hate that I am a sterotype, but guess what? My manager told me I am too emotional about stuff (by the way, I was asking for a salary review as I became aware that I was the lowest paid in the team)
I get asked to take the notes in meetings with the exec and suppliers. Yes, I am the only woman in the team.
I have lost count of the amount of times I get spoken over on video calls by my peers. My boss does nothing to manage it, despite me calling it out.
Emails go out to the team saying ‘hi gents’ … ummmm, hello?
I was told that I wasn’t going to be considered for (project) because it was known I wanted to start a family. (I only just got married btw!)
I am constantly being told not to eat too much (in the lunchroom by my male colleagues) as ‘fat girls don’t get the fellas’
‘Settle petal’ is the standard catchcry when I raise (the many) safety issues in our workplace with my supervisor
I’m exhausted at having to call out the shitty behaviour that is dished out to me and my female workmates
I just don’t get invited to meetings that involve me or am left of emails
When Enough is Enough
In my 40 year corporate career I expereinced many of these experiences. I am sad and angry that the women who come after me still endure this crap. I myself said enough is enough and attended my first ever protest march in 2021 out of sheer fury at the systematic disrespect towards women in Australia.
A word of warning though. Some women in your workplace will report the discrimination, bullying, harassment and abuse they endure. Others may be angrily gritting their teeth and suffering in silence. Others again, may decide enough is enough and walk away.
2 Questions and 2 Resources for Leaders
If you’re serious about creating a workplace that works for women, then you must ask yourself (and your people leaders) two questions.
- Do you know why women in your workplace are angry?
- Do you know how many women in your workplace are angry?
To find out the answer to both those questions, you must confront the brutal truths about the lived experience of women in your workplace:
- Download the Advancing Women 5X5 Leaders Guide to find out just what type of organisation you are really leading.
- Undertake The Advancing Women Workplace Diagnostic to discover exactly where to start moving workplace gender equality from conversation to action.
Talk to me if this blog hits a nerve. Because I help fix workplaces systems that perpetuate gender discrimination and I help women navigate those broken systems.