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Research Reveals Unsettling Gender Engagement Statistics

Gender-transition-concept-499902638_1735x1735.jpegWhen you think of gender issues in the workplace, what comes to mind? The wage gap? The rarity of paid leave? Professional sexism? New research shows there’s another workplace gender issue that should be added to HR’s list of challenges.

 

Our 2017 Employee Engagement Trends Report found that gender-based minorities are drastically less 

engaged at work, compared to men and women. The chart on the right shows the percentage of engaged, contributing, disengaged, and actively disengaged employees across three gender profiles. Employees who identified as “another gender” were roughly 30 percent less engaged and 9X more actively disengaged than employees who identified as male or female. While all three employee groups saw an increase in engagement from last year, employees who identified as “another gender” increased at about half the rate as men and women.

 

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After finding such a large overall difference by gender, I analyzed item-level perceptions. The results were rather interesting; the three items with the lowest levels of favorability were consistent across gender. The graph below shows those items, broken out by gender.

 

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The story I get from all these results is that despite having lower favorability around similar themes, such as strategic communication, future growth, and fair pay, employees who self-identify as a gender-based minority have far lower favorability. And this trend is similar across all 30 items in the survey. Another way to frame these results is that there’s no specific theme that gender-minority employees seem to have especially low perceptions about when compared to gender-majority employees. Or put differently, the low favorability among gender-minority employees seems universal.

 

Something must be driving lower favorability among gender-minority employees, and we need to better understand why. Unfortunately, I don’t have those answers. But your employees might.

 

Key Takeaway: Have Difficult Conversations about Bias and Discrimination

Why might gender-minority individuals feel such low favorability? Is your organizational culture supportive of these individuals, to outwardly express themselves as they inwardly view themselves? Are some employees in your organization perhaps scared to express themselves, for fear of exclusion or bullying?

 

These conversations are important, and unfortunately they don’t often happen until some kind of negative event occurs – typically some form of blatant discrimination. Sensitivity and diversity training generally follow those events, either for the specific individuals at fault or the team in which the act(s) occurred. But these responses are reactive, not proactive or preventative, and they are band aids for broken arms. In other words, those quick “one-and-done” diversity and inclusion workshops rarely address fundamental biases that may — intentionally or unintentionally — be embedded within your organization’s culture, whether those biases are aimed at differences across age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality.

 

What’s worse is that subtle discrimination may be more damaging than blatant discrimination. Additionally, a high proportion of employees within minority populations hide certain aspects of themselves at work to fit in, which could lower their performance potential. So don’t wait for acts of blatant bias or discrimination to occur. Have conversations about your organization’s acceptance of, supportiveness of, and treatment toward gender-minority employees (and really any type of minority). These conversations will be difficult, but they are necessary to uncover truths that may be completely hidden to most employees yet painfully apparent to others.

 

 

Employee Engagement Trends Report! Get the latest research and trends on engagement.

 

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