How to address gender diversity like the Oscars in 2018
This year’s Academy Awards stood out for various reasons, but most notably for the conversations surrounding gender and racial diversity, intersectionality, and women’s empowerment. Frances McDormand gave a viral speech on equality and the founders of prominent movements, such as #MeToo and Time’s Up, performed on stage alongside well-known musicians.
Despite its many imperfections, the 2018 Oscars got the ball rolling on gender diversity with top actresses discussing uncomfortable truths about being minorities in a male-dominated industry. Here’s what we can learn from it so that you can take the conversation into the office.
Let go of preconceived notions about women’s abilities
Director Greta Gerwig was only the fifth women to receive a nomination for Best Director in ninety years. Proving exactly how male-dominated Hollywood is, Gerwig stated she lacked sufficient role models in terms of women directors, adding that omen and their stories were not taken seriously, nor were their projects given sufficient funding.
Even in the professional world, there are pockets of industries where men clearly outnumber women, such as technology and engineering. If you work in a company or industry where this is the case, now is a good time to sit down and examine your preconceived beliefs about the women in your field. If you are a hiring manager or in a position to influence hiring decisions, ask about the dearth of women employees and leaders in your firm/industry.
Create an environment for women to flourish
Oscar-winning actresses Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek (all three of whom have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct) took to the stage to celebrate cinematic strides in gender and racial diversity. Keeping in line with the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, this year’s Oscars were a display of solidarity with all women who battled sexually hostile work environments.
While both men and women can be victims of workplace sexual harassment, women find themselves on the receiving end far more frequently. Ensure that you have a system in place which allows victims of harassment and abuse, particularly women to voice their complaints without fear of being brushed aside or receiving professional retaliation. Stamping out toxic work culture and threatening practices will ensure women employees and leaders feel safe and supported, allowing them to flourish at work.
Walk that talk
Best actress winner Frances McDormand’s concluding remark, “inclusion rider,” which referring to a special clause in actors’ contracts, guaranteeing the inclusion of diversity (gender, sexual, racial) in that particular project, was the phrase of the evening. Proposed as a solution to ensure representation from minorities both on and off-screen, the clause may carry financial penalties and is still in a developmental stage.
This goes to prove that paying lip service to gender equality and diversity isn’t enough. While hiring should definitely be done on the basis of ability, a conscious effort should be made to hire talented, capable women. Ensuring a diverse gender mix at all levels of the organisation gives way to increased conversations surrounding specific issues faced by women in the workplace.