Gender goes beyond whether or not someone is just male, female, or non-binary. Gender plays roles in the workplace that mimic the societal expectations around gender skills, responsibilities, and limitations. When employees of differing gender are sparring at the office over treatment on the basis of gender, employers will want to keep close tabs and intervene as soon as possible to avoid big and potentially legal ramifications from it.
Gender Conflict in the Workplace: Impact & Solutions
Gender dynamics play out whether or not we necessarily notice them. Especially in workforces where one gender is the majority, other genders run the risk of experiencing gender conflict in the workplace which can include discrimination and harassment. Here are some of the major impacts businesses may experience, as well as effective ways of handling confrontation at work when gender is involved.
Whenever there’s a need for staff conflict resolution, you can expect that job performance will be impacted. Any type of conflict uses immense mental and emotional energy from those involved which will make it challenging to focus on the task at hand. Additionally, depending on the severity of the gender conflict in the workplace, some folks may feel a decrease in safety in their work environment which will create understandable distractions.
Employers can utilize a sharp decrease in work performance as an indication that something may be wrong. While managers want to use discretion when handling confrontation at work, it’s important to act swiftly, especially if the dispute is based on treatment related to gender. Any reports of discrimination or harassment should be taken seriously and looked into to avoid further damage.
Sometimes, further damage can come from a company culture that normalizes discriminatory behavior. This typically happens slowly and subtly, so looking for nuances is important here. A company culture that permits discrimination or harassment will create ongoing gender conflict in the workplace.
Examples of discriminatory company cultures include workplaces that allow inappropriate joking about different genders and gender roles, where gender-based pay gaps are acceptable, and where sexual harassment goes undisciplined. “Boys club” types of workplaces are vulnerable to gender conflict in the workplace given how normal it is to exclude women solely on the basis of their gender. Likewise, company cultures that are comfortable excluding men or discriminating against transgender employees can find themselves in a challenging situation.
On a regular basis, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sues companies on behalf of their employees for violations against laws that protect American workers from experiencing discrimination at work. The majority of these lawsuits begin as gender conflict in the workplace that grow into legal violations and cost the company significantly in terms of time, money, and reputation.
Employers are encouraged to understand employment laws, share that knowledge with all company managers, and create policies that comply, including a policy about how to escalate discrimination complaints so they don’t go ignored. Additionally, ensuring the company culture is not normalizing potentially harmful and illegal behavior can help make egregious behavior easier to catch and manage earlier on.
All managers should have a toolbox of ways to resolve conflict at work so that all disputes, whether or not they’re directly related to gender, can be handled in a timely manner without causing additional disruptions to the work environment.
Resolving gender conflict in the workplace is a difficult task. Get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse the tension at work and avoid costly consequences. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.