The corporate world, in general, has come to accept the fact that workplaces have drastically changed during the last few years in terms of inclusivity and overall acceptance. There are, however, still several stigmas that impact women employees and other marginalized groups within the workplace.
A report published last year reported that only 38 percent of managerial positions in the developed corporate world of the United States were occupied by women. The figure went down even further in other countries with inadequate levels of empowerment. Additionally, 42 percent of all black women felt uncomfortable voicing their opinions on racial inequity at work and were ostracized for them.
Women and several other marginalized groups are constantly required to adhere to higher standards than those expected from CIS gender white men. And although several factors contribute to this discrimination, the stigmas present within the workplace play an important role in worsening the situation.
In this article, we take a look at some of the workplace stigmas that should go NOW. It is time we truly stepped into the promise of the 21st Century and shattered the ceilings that keep holding us back.
Most employees in the corporate world today shudder at the very thought of discussing politics in the workplace. Historically speaking, workplaces have always been considered separate from personal political beliefs. But the increasing number of social and political movements around us, such as the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement, have a significant impact on all aspects of our life—including how we interact in the workplace.
It is unrealistic for organizations today to expect employees to perform like robots without discussing their political affiliations and raising their social concerns in group meetings and sessions.
Often, our political beliefs are an essential part of our personality and are married to our very identities. Social responsibility matters today, and workplaces should act as a conduit towards promoting a healthy avenue for discussion, rather than just shunning the topic.
The gender pay gap is hidden from none in the corporate world today. Women workers today make a mere 82 cents to every dollar earned by white men. Several factors systematically contribute to this disparity in the gender pay gap, including unequal distribution of household labor, occupational sorting, the penalty of motherhood, and the fact that workplaces consider it a stigma for employees to talk about their salaries and payroll among each other.
The downside to salary discussions being considered taboo is that women and other marginalized groups never really talk about what others in similar positions around them make. Eventually, they may never realize the gender pay gap and are significantly underpaid by their organization.
Wearing Black Hairstyles
Hairstyle discrimination is rampant in the workplace today and is something that several Black people stick for in the corporate workplace. A simple Google search for ‘black person fired for their hair’ will generate around 60 million-plus results on Google.
In 2018, a Louisiana resident was fired by her workplace for having an afro that didn’t meet company standards. Traditionally Black hairstyles like dreadlocks, afros, and other forms of textured hair are still frowned upon by companies today.
Women with Body Hair, Tattoos, and Piercings
Although it is 2021, people still worry about how much hair women tend to have on their bodies and any visible piercings or tattoos. Societal beauty standards are ingrained within our brains today, and they play a significant role in the workplace.
Women that choose not to shave their body hair every day are considered ‘unhygienic’ and ‘unprofessional’ for their choices. Additionally, studies conducted on corporate managers have revealed that women with tattoos are considered less honest, less motivated, and less intelligent.
However, the bottom line still stands that the number of piercings or tattoos and a person’s body hair do not impact a person’s performance on the job. Talent is talent, regardless of what it looks like or what we want it to look like.
Women Being Limited to Care Related Roles
Women have historically been encouraged to pursue careers that involve caretaking and related activities. As a result, women would limit themselves to roles and jobs within nursing, education, and even child care. This blatant form of occupational sorting typically sorts people into stereotypical roles and careers. It can lead to stigmas against women wanting to pursue their careers in more male-dominated industries such as tech.
The notion that women are automatically supposed to look after domestic tasks leads to unpaid work setting up events, cleaning after parties, and scheduling work activities.
Mental Health and Illnesses
The general lack of concern and prioritization of mental health and illnesses in the workplace stuns us today. The less we talk about these critical factors, the more this stigma continues to grow. The corporate world has never really come to understand mental illnesses and the dangers they may carry.
The pandemic has brought mental ailments to the forefront, and managers today look at them from a holistic and strategic perspective. One out of five employees has had a history with a diagnosable mental health condition, proving the importance of removing stigmas related to mental health conditions. It should now be a priority to assist employees through mental health concerns and help them grow.
Stigmas lead to discrimination in the workplace, and bias eventually leads to grouping and lack of productivity. Since stigmas are promoted through our everyday habits, it is time that we identified them and controlled our practices to signal an improvement.