HBR Says Women Experience More Incivility than Men at Work — Especially from Other Women (KD at #workhuman)
Capitalist Note: I'm spending the first couple of days of this week at WorkHuman in Austin. Put on by Globoforce, WorkHuman is the most progressive HR Conference available, with past shows focused on emerging trends like mindfulness, meditation and more - the leading edge of people practices and how HR can build them. It's also hard to get a free Diet Coke at WorkHuman, because that stuff is bad for you - but healthy options are available and free. One of the best shows I attend, highly recommended.
I've been to WorkHuman one time a couple of years ago, and I'm back this year. It's a great show, but it has a very progressive lean, and you have to be ready for that. For me, it's a great shock out of the day-to-day way we normally think as traditional HR practitioners. Couple of funny memories from the first time I attended the show, both of which occurred during Q&A and tell you more about the average state of HR, not WorkHuman:
1--A HR manager type from Zappos asked a question from the audience - her question was interrupted by applause, because she was from ZAPPOS. Only in HR, my friends. Even the classiness and deep thinking of WorkHuman can't stop that reaction. Everybody drink.
2--Another HR Manager type asked a question about - and I'm not making this up - making her workplace meditation sessions/rooms mandatory for people because participation was low.
Mandatory meditation sessions? Welcome to the intersection of great thoughts/HR content brought to you by Workhuman (mindfulness and meditation) and average HR attempting to find their way to deliver on some of the ideas shared (make that s*** mandatory).
But if you listen closely, you'll figure out that WorkHuman is unlike any other HR show within 2 hours into the show.
Every year, WorkHuman evolves. One of the highlights of Workhuman this year is a #metoo panel, described below:
The #MeToo movement brought to light human behaviors that have no place in a human workplace. We are bringing together the leading voices of this movement in a historic panel discussion on sexual harassment, respect, and equality in the workplace. This panel will focus on these critical issues facing HR leaders today and organizations can drive changes and build cultures where everyone feels safe and empowered.
This discussion will be moderated by top-rated Wharton professor and best-selling author Adam Grant, a long-time advocate for workplace equality. Panel participants include actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd, gender equity advocate Tarana Burke, and other soon-to-be-announced guests.
I'm fascinated that Grant and Ronan Farrow (one of the TBD panelists) - two white guys - make up half this panel (Grant's moderating, but I'm counting him). I'm confident they'll do a great job, but the danger for them is real. One wrong turn and it's going to be harsh for them, like the time Matt Damon did some #mansplaining of this own on a diversity panel. Part of me feels like including guys on the panel is a lot like NASCAR (I've been to a race one time), where people just wait for the inevitable crash. Imagine the focus in the room when these guys speak. It's a form of inclusion, even if many in the audience will be guarded every time one of the guys speaks:
"What did he just say?"
That's going to be interesting to me. But I will say this - WorkHuman stretches your boundaries, and that's the whole point. Growth and getting exposed to ideas and perspectives you don't encounter every day is the currency of this show.
Here's another recent item related to some of the conversation that will/should happen at WorkHuman...
A recent study by HBR showed the following - Women Experience More Incivility at Work — Especially from Other Women - which is a finding I'm assuming will be addressed indirectly by the #metoo panel. Here's some snippets from that study that play into the #metoo panel:
Most employees, at one point or another, have been the victim of incivility at work. Ranging from snarky comments or rude interruptions to being disrespected in a brusque email, organizations can be breeding grounds for this type of behavior. Compared to more egregious forms of workplace mistreatment like sexual harassment, incivility — which is classified as low-intensity deviance at work — may seem minor. Yet, the costs of incivility can add up.
One finding that has been frequently documented is that women tend to report experiencing more incivility at work than their male counterparts. However, it has been unclear to as to who is perpetrating the mistreatment towards women at work. Some have theorized that men may be the culprits, as men are the more dominant social class in society and may feel as though they have the power to mistreat women. Perhaps as more overt forms of mistreatment like sexual harassment have become legally prohibited and socially taboo, subtle forms of discrimination in the form of incivility may increasingly occur within the workplace. Others, however, have theorized and suggested that women may be mistreating other women because they are more likely to view each other as competition for advancement opportunities in companies.
Our research examined these two opposing views by conducting three complementary studies. These studies involved rather large samples, surveying between 400 and over 600 U.S. employees per study, across a variety of service operations and time periods. In each study, we consistently found that women reported experiencing more incivility from other women than from their male coworkers. Examples of this incivility included being addressed in unprofessional terms, having derogatory comments directed toward them, being put down in a condescending way, and being ignored or excluded from professional camaraderie.
The question, though, is why? Why would women be more susceptible to this treatment from other women? Our research suggests that when women acted more assertively at work — expressing opinions in meetings, assigning people to tasks, and taking charge — they were even more likely to report receiving uncivil treatment from other women at work. We suspect that it may be that women acting assertively contradicts the norms that women must be warm and nurturing rather than emphatic and dominant. This means that women who take charge at work may suffer backlash in the form of being interpersonally mistreated.
It may also be the case that these assertive behaviors are viewed as ruthless by other women; given that women are more likely to compare themselves against each other, these behaviors may signal competition, eliciting incivility as a response.
HR has been said to be 70%+ female. I can tell you that I've seen women in HR treat their female departmental peers harshly, and I can also tell you that I never felt like I received that same treatment as a guy - which I now can code as Incivility based on the HBR article. Thanks, HBR!
The guys in HR get passes a lot of times from women in HR. Women in HR don't always get the same courtesy from other women in HR.
You can go read the entire article on the study here. I'm guessing the topic of woman to woman incivility will come up in the panel.
But if I was one of those guys on the panel, I'd wait for the females bring it up.
More notes to follow from #workhuman in Austin. Put this one on your list of shows to attend in the future.