Social media platforms don’t always have the best reputation for balanced, thoughtful conversations.
Algorithms that power what we see and who we talk to in social media can mean we miss vital new ideas and alternative perspectives.
Engagement bait encourages quick responses that can reinforce bias and create “filter bubbles” where we only see and hear more of the same.
That’s why this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BreakTheBias spoke so strongly to us at Guild.
We believe strongly that communities, without algorithms, enable equal weighting of individual contributions.
Respectful conversation in safe spaces, like Guild communities, allow people to come forward with difficult questions.
Certainly, our philosophy at Guild is that if we can combine honesty and respect in communities, we can learn new perspectives that can foster better understanding and a better world.
"A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated."
International Women's Day
Standing up and addressing bias takes courage, whether online, in the workplace or in our personal lives.
We asked Guild members for their advice, reading recommendations and experiences of how to #BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day.
Over to them:
"Be intentional and visible in the steps you take to break the bias. This means building your own courage to step up and call discrimination out when you see or hear it. This is not easy. But if you are intentional it will become easier over time."
“My recommendation is a book by one of the panellists at our International Women’s Day event: Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini.
It looks at science’s failure to understand women and addresses its legacy of bias and prejudice.”
Yvonne Okiyo, Strategic Lead Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Social Justice Activist
"Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. To unpack our bias we must challenge ourselves and others. Acknowledge and accept that bias is present in each of us through learned values and beliefs, stereotyping, and representation.
Being aware of our bias and challenging how it affects our decisions, behaviours and actions is key for us to #BreakTheBias and change the narrative for greater equity and inclusion."
Kirsty Walker, Inclusion & Diversity Manager, Channel 4
"One common bias is that of a strong woman in the workplace as that can conjure an image of a ruthless senior leader competing in a man's world.
It is far from reality. To progress you don't need to conform to any stereotype. Be true to yourself and challenge others to think again.
Break the thinking that reinforces negative gender perceptions and concentrate on the individual. Every woman I know is strong in her own unique way; my mother, my wife, my daughter, and my colleagues at work, and that strength should never be underestimated."
Chris Maile, Head of Human Resources, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
"All leaders have an opportunity to break the bias. Employers need to get better at not hiring in their image and be braver at putting diverse teams in front of clients.
Taking on school leavers or those from more disadvantaged backgrounds may require a longer-term approach and greater investment in training but it’s time for this to be seen and acted on as an imperative. By employing a more strategic and thoughtful approach to talent hires and offering fairer remuneration, as well as banning free internships and the nonsensical ‘Russell Group 2:1 graduate’ obsession, we could soon level up the PR industry."
Sarah Waddington CBE, Managing Director, Astute. Co-founder of Socially Mobile, a not-for-profit PR school and host of the Socially Mobile Community on Guild. Her CBE was awarded in June 2021 for services to public relations and voluntary sectors.
"The reason I am where I am in my career is because of fantastic leaders who invested their time in me and who I admired for what they achieved. As it happens, all of them have been women. I've sadly also seen how there is still a barrier at senior leadership levels to provide equality. In 2022, we shouldn't be needing to have these conversations but there is still work to be done.
My plea is for those leaders who sit at the top table to check in with their bias, and unconscous bias to make sure they are been inclusive or leave any preconceptions at the door."
"All businesses can play a role in breaking down biases. Recognising the value of diversity – not just gender – will help build stronger, more resilient, outward looking organisations.
Research shows that a wider range of backgrounds and outlooks helps organisations develop better ideas and strategies. That's something we need now more than ever, especially if we're to avoid the ‘the status quo trap’ that Margaret Heffernan highlights in her excellent book, Wilful Blindness.
As for my advice to people battling bias in their own professional lives - be true to your values and don’t back down, find ways to have those ‘fierce conversations’, even if you have to start with slow and subtle solutions. As Billy Jean King says: “Even if you're not a born activist […] life can damn well make you one.”
Catherine Weetman, founder of Rethink Global, author of A Circular Economy Handbook, speaker, facilitator and coach, and host of the Circular Economy Podcast and the Delivering Sustainability in your Business community
"The starting point is to accept - with self-compassion - that we’re all biased. We’re all a product of our childhood, upbringing, education and lived experiences.
To #breakthebias this International Women’s Day, we have to start with breaking our own bias. At work, think about who is different to you, with whom you could invite a conversation or an opportunity to share ideas or collaborate.
Build trust in people unlike you, one conversation at a time. Proceed with curiosity, openness and positive regard!"
Amanda Davie, Women’s leadership coach, L&D consultant co-founder and host of She Has No Limits community which is marking International Women’s Day with an event raising funds for Young Women's Trust. Gender Identity Speaker Cynthia Fortlage will be speaking and taking questions about reducing gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping in our workplaces and lives.
Communities on Guild that work towards equality and inclusivity:
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