3 Areas Where Cultural Norms Derail Us At Work, Even When Policies May Not

Posted: February 21, 2017
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Interpersonal dynamics, often dictated by norms around ‘how women should behave’ can impact our careers, even when workplace policies for equality appear to be in place. Here’s how.

A workplace environment comes with a lot of interpersonal dynamics. While modern day corporates have many processes in place for work estimation, work scheduling, performance appraisals, open door policy etc, the impact of personal interactions along with relatability, bias, aversion, and adherence to set ideas is always running through any organisation as an undercurrent.

A professional set up wrought with the complications of human relationship dynamics, gets further complicated by the differences between the genders. Today, the corporate arena treats men and women almost equally; there are more or less equal opportunities available to all, especially at entry level and middle management level.

However certain preset ideas do still exist such as women feeling that they need to work extra hard to be treated equal to their male counterparts or men thinking that due to their family commitments women might be lax at work. Due to these notions, women do face a little more hesitation and awkwardness when dealing with a conflict situation.

#1 Handling unrealistic deadlines

Deadlines, especially the challenging kinds, are a part and parcel of work life, irrespective of one’s field of work. Deadlines are gender neutral and all of us live and breathe them, work through them. As a part of the corporate workforce at one time, I have seen that women are less vocal when complaining to their managers about unrealistic deadlines than men.

The hesitation to complain or escalate comes from the fact that to show their commitment towards work, women do have to go an extra mile. (Or at least, that is what, we as women, think.)

Also, culturally, we love qualities like demureness and obedience in our girls; probably if we replace that with likability for being a bad ass or at least not being snubbed for speaking one’s mind, women will get better at being vocal.

#2 Asking for promotion

Asking for promotion is another area where women critically analyze themselves a lot more. If a woman had to rate oneself on a scale of 10, even if she rates herself an 8, she would be hesitant to approach her superiors to ask for a well-deserved promotion, if she hasn’t got one.

A male counterpart will always give it a shot at selling himself for a raise, even if there are not enough data points to support it. Once again, culturally, women go along with a ‘you get what you deserve’ attitude a lot more as compared to men.

#3 Being friends at work

Women hesitate to opt out of social activities with office colleagues, even if those activities do not interest them sometimes; the reason being that they don’t want to look out of place from the rest. They do not want to lose out on the brownie points which one gets by being able to network outside office, even if it’s boring or uncomfortable for them.

As much as policies and work environment support equality, a lot of work needs to be done in our homes and the society in general, to ensure healthy dynamics between men and women at work too.

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