You can demand workplace rights for women and LGBTQ+ persons and herald change even while you work from home.
In my conversations with women and LGBTQ+ persons over the years, I have heard about instances of discrimination several times. What I’ve gathered is not that this discrimination occurs, but that it’s often subtle.
With growing consciousness around workplace discrimination, the concept of differential treatment is definitely on our minds. We’re more careful of the things we say and do. But it doesn’t mean that prejudice doesn’t exist; it has merely masked itself into something more muted and toned down.
Regardless of that, it’s important for us to stand up for each other, now more than ever ﹘ since we’re in isolation ﹘ as that will help us forge better relationships with our peers as well.
If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination and wants to take up the cause to make the workplace better, we’re here to help!
Effective Ways To Fight For Women’s Rights In The Workplace
‘Female’ isn’t a homogenous category, and neither is ‘LGBTQ+’ ﹘ our problems differ within the community as well as amongst each other. So while you’re on your path to making your workplace free of discrimination, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach!
What works for one person may not work for the other, and the key is to be receptive to each one’s experience.
That said, here are 6 effective ways you can fight for their rights in the workplace:
1. Educate Yourself And Build Connections
As easy as it sounds, educating oneself is a continuous process. When you come from a place of privilege, it’s hard to pinpoint discrimination.
For instance, an English-speaking, upper-middle-class woman working with people from varied backgrounds will most likely be preferred to give presentations instead of a non-native English speaker. This may not be a big deal to the former, but in the larger scheme of things, it is discrimination.
Privilege isn’t always explicitly seen, which is why it’s important to sensitise yourself.
Be open to conversations with those around you. Get to know about their lives and journeys, and read up on things you didn’t know could affect others. If you’re a man who doesn’t understand what mansplaining is, open your mind up to the experiences of those around you instead of dismissing them outright. Google it if you need to, and ask questions wherever required.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Whether it’s your manager or your colleague, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Instead of letting a sexist statement slide, ask, “What made you say that?” Instead of letting someone’s experience go as a one-off incident, ask, “Can you help me understand what happened?”
Asking people questions means holding them accountable. You spend 8+ hours a day in a space, so you are entitled to make it safe and free from trouble and discrimination.
Remember that while people in disadvantaged positions aren’t obligated to educate you about their oppression, don’t be afraid to ask informed questions.
3. Respect Pronouns
A great way to make an LGBTQ+ person feel more comfortable in a workspace is to emphasise pronouns and use them correctly.
By using a person’s correct pronouns, you’re acknowledging and accepting their identity.
One way you can practice this form of inclusion is by using your pronouns in your email signature, or Slack or Zoom username. You may even mention your pronouns when introducing yourself. This will give the other person a clear idea of your intention to make them feel safe around you. Encourage others to do the same, if it’s in your capacity!
4. Speak Up
In the wake of the second wave of the pandemic, distressed employees everywhere expressed the need for companies to take cognizance of their deteriorating mental health ﹘ and companies delivered. Four-day work weeks, mental health leaves, and week-long breaks became the new norm across sectors.
Even in the most forward-thinking places, discrimination can persist, sometimes at the policy level.
If it’s in your capacity, speak to your immediate manager about the need to change things in the core of the company. You may take initiative to launch an informal survey to evaluate the employees’ level of freedom and safety; you may bring up the need for mental health leaves, menstruation leaves, etc. if it’s the need of the hour; you may ask for better medical benefits if that’s what you need. Regardless of whether you’re heard, don’t hesitate to speak up and demand change.
5. Donate, And Ask To Donate
Several people and communities are in dire need of donations, most of whom belong to marginalised groups.
Circulate and share the names and details of organisations catering to such groups and get people to donate!
You can urge the management to donate on behalf of the organisation, or you can speak to your HR about sharing it company-wide and invite employees to donate.
6. Provide Solutions
One way you can fight for a person’s right to succeed in the workplace is by providing solutions to the company management to make the office space more inclusive and diverse.
We often think that discrimination ends at access. Non-English speaking people, for instance, can get access to a job in a corporation, but may get left behind because they lack fluency in the language, which is considered social currency. In such a case, you can suggest the company provide lessons to help employees improve their language skills or courses they can take up. For women and LGBTQ+ people, you can demand unisex bathrooms and free menstrual hygiene products to start.
Fighting for someone’s rights entails myriad steps you can take to better their place in the organisation. You don’t always have to do something big ﹘ just asking uncomfortable questions to people in powerful positions can do the trick too.
How do you practice your fight for people’s rights in your organisation? We’d love to know!
You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.