Visibility is critical in the workplace -- enabling employees to demonstrate their skills, land prominent assignments and build strategic relationships. For women, however, the importance of visibility creates a conundrum.
According to research, women may lose out on promotion opportunities because their direct reporting lines do not know them well or incorrectly evaluate their ambitions, and may therefore underrate their job performance. This limits their professional advancement and may help explain why senior leadership remains overwhelmingly male across industries.
However, when women try to make themselves more visible, they may face backlash for violating social norms on how women are expected to behave, and risk losing their hard-won career gains. COVID-19 has only compounded some of the challenges women face in being seen, heard, valued and recognised accordingly.
To think more critically about this problem, we organised our first Hack for Gender Equality, which brought together our programme participants from the Mentoring Programme for Women Leaders, Male Allies, and Women to Watch in a creative and collaborative environment to find innovative solutions. Reviewed by a panel of judges for their creativity, feasibility and impact, here are some of their ideas:
- LOOP (winner): an app that removes human bias from performance feedback, by encouraging employees to give weekly feedback on their peers based on pre-defined, measurable characteristics. Managers have access to a dashboard of live feedback where they can more fairly evaluate employee performance.
- Spark (audience choice award): a customisable app that gamifies scenarios around visibility at work to help managers and leaders recognise their own biases and adopt more inclusive practices.
- FitBis: an app that tracks visibility by measuring how often and in what context a person speaks up and contributes in various work scenarios, providing advice and resources to address some of these issues.
- Speak Up: an app that raises awareness on meeting dynamics, analysing individual’s confidence levels, volume, ability to focus, and how many times a person is interrupted (or is interrupting someone else). Individual data is compared with that of their colleagues so individuals can modulate their behaviours.
We know none of these ideas are standalone solutions. Tone from the top and inclusive policies - alongside many other interventions – are all needed to create a culture shift to enable all employees to be valued and rewarded for their contributions. However, our aim with this pilot hackathon was to stimulate important dialogue and develop out-of-the-box solutions to bring female talent and leadership to the forefront, and strengthen each organisation’s commitment to fostering a more gender equal workplace. We look forward to continuing our work with individuals and organisations to think differently and through a gender lens on how we can build more inclusive workplaces.
Congratulations to all participants!
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.
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