Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Great advice when worrying about things that are beyond your control or minor mistakes that really don’t matter in the larger scheme of life.

But when it comes to how we treat each other, especially women in tech, in a professional setting we should be getting out the LARGE size of antiperspirant because sweating the small stuff makes a BIG difference in employee engagement and retention among other things.

This month’s Belong issue focuses on micro-inequities. Those small, highly damaging yet subtle ways women in tech are undercut at work. They are those things said that we may not even realize we are saying, or perhaps, as a woman, we brush them off not recognizing the deeper damage that is occurring.

No worries. We don’t just help raise your awareness about the problem and how to recognize it but we also offer a solution. Read on and…

Get InspiHERed!

CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company

 

The not so small “small stuff”

It’s been said that “the small stuff won’t kill you, but death by a thousand cuts is no way to live.”

In the workplace, we call the “small stuff” micro-inequities – subtle, fleeting behaviors that diminish another person.

What a Micro-inequity Looks Like

Small slights are harder to recognize than blatant prejudice. So it’s helpful to know some common examples:

  • Interrupting or cutting off a colleague
  • Checking a smartphone during a presentation or conversation
  • Assuming  tasks will be assigned by gender (such as note taking during meetings)
  • Overlooking a person during group introductions
  • Calling someone a nickname they didn’t create or share
  • Saying, “What she’s really trying to say is . . . “
  • Sighing and eye rolling

Why Putting A Stop To Micro-inequities Matters

Point one out and someone might respond, “I didn’t mean it like that,” or “You’re being overly sensitive.”

But the focus should be on productivity, not sensitivity. Working Mother points out how small affronts “can take their toll on an employee’s self-esteem and work performance.” As one woman told the magazine, “It erodes your morale and puts you on the defensive.”

In a March 2019 post, the Iowa State University professional development blog commented that “the results of micro-inequities are not trivial. . . [they] can lead to low productivity and turnover.”

What can be done

Working Mother recommends that companies train employees to recognize the hidden biases that lead to micro-inequities. One easy way companies can counter micro-inequities is to encourage what MIT’s Mary Rowe describes as micro-affirmations: subtle messages that let employees know they’re doing well and are expected to succeed.

For the rest of this month make it a point to do micro-affirmations whenever you can.

  • Thank a teammate for her good attitude in the face of a challenging client.
  • Offer to carry someone’s bag when their hands are full.
  • Compliment someone just because.
  • Commend someone for a job well done…in the moment

“Such consistent, appropriate affirmation can spread from one person to another, potentially raising morale and productivity,” Mary Rowe says.

 

Who first called out “micro-inequities”?Mary Rowe, a professor at MIT, is credited with coining the phrase “micro-inequities” in 1973 while researching discrimination.
After collecting hundreds of reports of seemingly small acts of bias, she labeled and defined micro-inequities as: “small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be ‘different.’”
A quarter of women in tech feel shut down in meetings. [HR Dive]

Make interruptions an opportunity for advocacy. [Fortune]

What scholars say about gender micro-inequities. [SAGE Reference]

Micro-inequities expose employers to risk and turnover. [Talent Management]

 

While it may seem small, the ripple effect of small things is extraordinary.

– Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky

 

 

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