Happy bloody International Women’s day! Get out your booby mugs, go catch up with your girls, and let the women in your life know you appreciate them. Every year, IWD feels like a bigger and bigger celebration and we are so onboard.
Women face huge challenges in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace. This year’s IWD theme is Break The Bias, and is all about uncovering the implicit biases that restrict growth and change for women on a daily basis. We are jumping on the idealism train, and imagining a future free of gender based bias, prejudice, and persecution.
But what does this actually look like, and how can we facilitate these changes in our day to day lives and workplaces?
What are we up against?
There is an assumption (predominantly supported by white, cis men, lets be real) that sexism is kind of a done deal – if you can vote, work, and live relatively free of persecution, you don’t have a lot to complain about.
Well, the reality is that women and female-presenting people still face a huge amount of barriers in their day to day lives and they are often deceivingly implicit and under the radar. Marketing, despite being one of the most female dominated industries out there, still functions under these implicit biases.
The Free Labour Economy
The reality is, women are expected to provide essential labour that allows society to function – for free, every day. Childcare, domestic tasks, and emotional support are expected so often of women that it’s not even a question.
This is not to say that women shouldn’t necessarily perform these tasks if they would like to. However the free labour that women provide to our society is so often the reason they are considered a risky hire. Their male counterparts often directly benefit from this free labour in the advancement of their own careers, including relying on female partners for childcare, emotional support and domestic tasks.
It seems remarkably outdated that these ideals still exist, and yet they persist every day, where women are expected to do it all and yet receive no recognition or compensation.
Women shouldn’t be discriminated against for their choices around children, emotionality, or anything else.
Have you ever had the realisation while talking to your grandparents that you just aren’t going to change their minds on some big moral question?
We have all been there.
Sexist ideologies are often a carry over from the previous generation and we can all appreciate that these values and mindsets may have once protected women and allowed them to succeed within their society and workplace. However, these opinions can often be dismissive and disrespectful to the struggles of the younger generation. Younger women often feel berated and hurt by this generational disconnect, which is all the sadder as it is a huge barrier for their professional growth.
The cultural pattern of inter-generational disconnect is hugely restrictive of young people’s potential, especially when these people are our effective leaders and mentors.
How does BeKonstructive #BreakTheBias
As far as workplaces go, BeKonstructive ticks a lot of boxes, particularly in the field of inclusivity and diversity.
When Bek Drayton, CEO and Mentor, created BeKonstructive, she did so with a backlog of anecdotes about her disappointment with the industry. A large number of which came back to her being a young woman with little confidence in her own skills and strengths. This ultimately led her to her ethos of continuous improvement and her push to always do better.
BeKonstructive is built on ideas about a future in which everyone feels confident in their ability and skills no matter their background. In Bek’s own words we tend to ‘lean female’, which means that the majority of our staff have been women. BeKonstructive has cultivated a community of women from all walks of life who support and celebrate each other.
So often in workplaces women have been set against each other, forming toxic and unhealthy working relationships amongst women all competing for the singular seat at the table. Bek experienced this a lot in the early stages of her career and says that BeKonstructive is her way of making more space for women in the industry.
Rather than squabbling over the one chair for a female at the head of the table, we could be pulling up another chair and making more seats. Bek Drayton
There is power in the pack at BeKonstructive, and there is also power in the pack in your own workplace. Feminism is, and always should be, about lifting others up, not undercutting each other for the quickest leg up.
Women already struggle with so many hindrances in the workplace, which is only exacerbated by intersectional issues like race, disability, sexual orientation, and many more factors. We believe that intersectional feminism is at the core of a healthy workplace.
As well as this, BeKonstructive prioritises growth, change, and flexibility over the upholding traditional work structures. Bek argues that being receptive to the challenges of her staff and working around them is actually more productive and profitable than hardlined working arrangements.
There is a view that women should be able to do it all, work a nine to five and still do all the free labour they once did. Oh, and fit in that pilates class. And have time for your friends and passions. And have a side hustle in pottery.
However over the last two years, this precarious Girlboss archetype has taken a huge hit. US studies have shown that women were twice as likely as men to report job loss due to lack of childcare during the pandemic.
Women have been forced to insert themselves into a workplace culture that was built for men, and while being told to act like them as much as possible; to not be overly emotional, to not be overly accommodating, to shut up and not complain and get on with it. This birthed a hustle culture that was precarious at best, and when 2020 hit, women (especially women of colour and women with disability) bore the brunt of it.
BeKonstructive strives for flexibility and growth in the workplace because these things allow women, and frankly everyone else as well, to succeed. 2020 gave workplaces a shock to the system that they needed – a shout out for empathy and flexibility in strange times. BeKonstructive, like many, recognised the opportunity to create a future in which terms like ‘accommodating’ and ‘understanding’ aren’t followed by an eye roll.
Because frankly, at the end of the day, a workplace that is flexible and accommodating to the needs of its employees is more productive and more profitable.
What Can You Do To #BreakTheBias?
We are so lucky to have an amazing female audience and are so proud to be part of a community of industry leaders. We believe that if you are a leader in your workplace, that you have the capacity to lift others up to succeed.
Stand by your policies and acknowledge your bias and privilege and use it for good. Acknowledge when something isn’t right and change it. Check in with your employee’s – men, women, non-binary, people of colour, people with disability – and see what they need to succeed and then provide it for them.
Take the lessons you have learnt over the last two years, be open to change and be willing to be flexible. An economy that grows with its employees is an economy that supports the complex demands of women’s lives.
For Up and Comers
As a young person in the workplace, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself and others, especially when you are already at a disadvantage. However, there are lots of ways you can support your coworkers without jeopardising your own position.
Number one is making sure that your social community at work is welcoming, inclusive, and empathetic. You may not be able to stand up to your superiors, but you can make a difference by making sure your peers are welcome and heard.
For women in the workplace, the pack survives. Making strong, positive connections with other women in your industry will ultimately help you all thrive.
International Women’s Day: A Day To Celebrate!
While IWD is a time to reflect on women’s struggles, it is also a day to celebrate. At BeKonstructive, we are so beyond honoured to be a part of such a kick-ass, empathetic, and ambitious community of women.
So this goes out to all the women who have helped us get where we are today. By opening your ears, raising your voices, and supporting other women, you have inadvertently made the future brighter for women.
If you would like to learn more about how you can #BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day, go check out the IWD website for some awesome resources. IWD is a day to educate yourself, step up, and let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them.
Because, frankly, where would we be without them?