Reducing the Negative Impact of Stereotypes at Work

February 3, 201712:17 pm3783 views

The truth is, everyone has a tendency to categorise people into certain groups according to gender, race, colour, religion, national origin, or philosophical views. Stereotype has been so pervasive and common in our daily lives. Sometimes, people do not even realise and are unconsciously bias towards others. When it comes to the workplace, how should leaders react to the stereotypes?

Stereotypes are created, spread, and perpetuated in our daily lives through TV shows, newspapers, internet, and other media. Looking at things in a positive light, stereotypes helps us decide the right way to interact with certain groups of people. For example, when men know that women stereotypically have soft and kind-hearted nature, they can adjust themselves and act more polite towards women.

However, rather than a positive one, stereotypes seem to bring about more negative effects. Stereotypes often lead to generalisation and unfair assumption. As women are more aware that their kind-hearted nature is building a stereotype mindset, making it difficult for men to see them as a great leader.

The argument here is, an inspiring leader should be someone with a firm and strict personality, so women generally do not count on that. When such conclusion are drawn based on generic assumptions and not just bias in itself, then it hampers one’s opportunity to grow and succeed. This further percolates unhealthy culture at work in the longer run.

While stereotyping occurs at the workplace, sometimes it does hurt an employee’s self-esteem and this affects company’s productivity and workflow at the same time. If you want to create a joyful and inspiring work environment, here are some methods to reduce the negative impact of stereotypes at the work:

See: Gender-Balance at Work: Women-Owned Firms Emerge as a Potent Force for Global Economic Growth

Socialise the commitment

You cannot walk alone in fighting the stereotypes at work without adequate support from all of the elements in the organisation. Managers, supervisors, and employees should acknowledge the company’s commitment to encourage diversity.

Whether it is through a written policy or an unwritten convention, make sure that everyone pays attention and shares similar spirit to end any form of discrimination at the workplace. Provide proper explanation on how stereotypes might affect hiring decisions, assessment, and evaluation.

Socialise diversity training

Some people fall into the act of stereotyping simply because they do not know the truth. To prevent such cases, you have to educate your employees about diversity training. You might need to conduct sessions to talk about specific topics related to the significance of diversity.

Invite all employees for open discussions to understand their views on work ethics and values. Encourage respect and empathy among all elements, regardless all differences. Discuss the workplace culture with managers and supervisors and devise methods that can be used to avoid stereotyping within departments.

Expand the network

Establish affinity groups within the organisation to improve networking and strengthen the bonds among co-workers. It is important to diversify your team. For example, if your team comprises of people from the same gender and race, you can divide the team and shuffle some of the members to a different team, to build upon the diversity quotient. By expanding networks, people can get better knowledge about certain groups and thus act accordingly.

Stereotyping is not only unacceptable in the society, but also in the workplace. Considering how this will affect business productivity and profits, it is imperative for HR leaders to seek the best way to reduce its negative impact. When you successfully implement a strategy, you will be able to create a better workplace that welcomes everyone to learn, stay off generalisations, assumptions and grow together as a team.

Read also: Clearing Off Delusions about Women in Tech with Jessie Xia of ThoughtWorks’ Singapore

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