Advocacy : a gem in the gender equality toolkit?

There’s a feeling of excitement this week at birdsoup – today is International Women’s Day when we are all being asked to #PressforProgress, organisations are publishing their gender pay gap numbers in the UK and elsewhere women are calling time on the old order of things.

It feels like a shift is happening right here, right now and it’s long overdue. birdsoup was set up to change things, create small revolutions in the workplace and actually DO something, so we are always looking for ways to disrupt the normal way of working and create a positive change for women in the workplace.
So here’s something I’ve come across that seems like an interesting way to help women (and many men) get around the awkwardness of asking for promotion/payrise/different working hours or patterns.

The idea is advocacy. By advocacy, I mean getting others to put forward your side of a situation or getting together in a group to do the same. An experiment was carried out in a US university with women who wanted to ask for a pay rise but felt intimidated out of doing it whenever faced with their boss. The control group did what they always did: presented the reasons why they wanted the pay rise by themselves in the usual way, whereas the test group had another person put forward their ‘business case’. The main take out from this experiment was that those who advocated for their colleague found it really easy to do. It removed the personal feelings that are inherent in these types of conversations and led to really positive results. *

In these days when the gender pay gap is a headline and companies are submitting their reports, this really resonated. We all know about the gender pay gap and have heard some of the reasons for it but how do we change it in an ongoing way? Levelling out the disparity will set the dial to 0 but how can this be sustained? What’s to stop the old habits from creeping back in? Structural and procedural changes can help but when an organisation relies on individuals to negotiate their own salaries there’s a huge chance that a gap will re-appear.

So how about trying out advocacy? Everyone can do it – it’s much easier to argue the case for someone else than for yourself. Or try group bargaining – especially valid when discussing flexibility or job role changes. In this week of International Women’s Day try something else and #PressforProgress. Do something differently and start your own revolution at work.

#PressforProgress #IWD2018 #revolutionatwork

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash