Do you know what everyday sexism looks like in the workplace?

An new report outlines steps that employers can take to eliminate sexism

Do you know what everyday sexism looks like in the workplace?
t is everyday sexism?

Just as the name suggests, it happens in both the formal and casual interactions between people.

It happens in daily life and frequently in workplaces, according to a new report by The Male Champions of Change (MCC).

CEOs from the likes of Ten Network, Fairfax and CBA are among 100 business leaders that are part of the MCC.

We Set The Tone recognises that many people struggle to understand why this issue is important and argues that everybody in the workplace should work together to address this issue.

This is because everyday sexism causes harm to all staff, not only women.

This includes impeding women’s career progression and preventing men from equally participating in child rearing.

There are multiple benefits of a workplace without sexism, including increasing the talent pool and harnessing a more diverse range of views that modern workplaces require for optimum performance.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said business leaders had agreed that everyday sexism had substantial consequences on their staff's personal and professional lives.

"Typically, people don't raise it because it can be seen as too small to make a fuss about and few want to be seen to be 'rocking the boat',” said Jenkins.

“But consistently in my work... we hear that these things do matter.”

She added that while some sectors respond decisively to more explicit forms of sexual harassment, everyday sexism is still evident in workplace interactions, systems, policies and decisions that impact both individual careers and cultures of organisations.

The report outlines what everyday sexism looks like in the modern Australian workplace. This includes the following:

Insults masquerading as jokes. Think twice before making remarks and jokes based on gender – often they are sexist.

Devaluing women’s views or voice. Men should think before they act. Why do you need to interrupt a woman in a meeting? Do you actually need to explain that information to her? Why didn’t you agree with her until your male colleague said the same thing? Why did you presume the guy was in charge?

Role stereotyping. Don’t worry, John will clear up the water glasses following the meeting. Jenny can park the car in the basement – it’s just so tight down there and I don’t want to scratch my boss’s car. These sentences shouldn’t sound weird.

Preoccupation with physical appearance. This includes comments about body shape, size, physical characteristics and clothing. Opinions or comments by others about any of these things are sexist.

Assumptions that caring and careers don’t mix. Having kids or caring for family members have no bearing on a person’s ability to further their career. Equally, a person does not have to explain their decision not to have children to you. Assumptions based on caring responsibilities impact both men and women and are sexist.

Unwarranted gender labelling. My manager Jenny is so bossy. My manager John is very assertive. These sentences mean the same thing but only one is positive.

Moreover, MCC outlines three steps to eliminate sexism in the workplace.

Everyone needs to know what they are dealing with, including understanding what sexism looks like in their workplace and the impact it has on both staff and the organisation.

Everyone needs to find ways to get their colleagues to see and acknowledge sexism. This includes challenging entrenched attitudes and processes that enable sexism to exist.

Everyone, but especially leaders, needs to set the tone by creating a workplace where staff are empowered to call out sexism when they see it.

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