Break the Bias – Report

What is one main issue to be changed so more women can reach their full potential?

This question was bothered us for a long time. Not just because in the tech area lack of women is significant. We see this constant gap in many other work spheres.

We want to break the bias – not only in March but in every month of the year. And we are going to make it from this very first step – by asking women what they need.

Read our report and break the bias with us!


We ran a global survey with 100 women from Poland, Czech, Germany, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Singapore about professional leadership growth. The study brings to light the prejudices and barriers that must undergo a transformation for women to fully develop their potential.

We asked many questions. One of the most important was: What is one main issue that to be changed so more women could reach their full potential? There is some good and bad news. But let’s start from discovering the top three areas for change.

The good news is that the main barrier which needs to be overcome by women to help them grow is self-confidence. It is something each of us can take responsibility for. And it is much easier to do things which are under our control. 

The bad news is that all other barriers identified by survey participants are stereotypes and biases present in society. Eliminating them is an adaptive problem, and there is no easy solution to solve it.

Survey’ Background

According to McKinsey, only 6.1% of current business leaders are women. There is still much work to be done to create a culture that takes full advantage of diversity. As I plan workforce development and inclusion initiatives at A4BEE , I wanted to recognize the barriers that hinder women’s career advancement. The same survey was run externally and internally.

We received 100 responses from women at different career stages (minimum one year of work experience). All women working at A4BEE provided their answers as well. Initially, the idea was to understand better how to improve our internal inclusion culture to make it competitive for new employees. Finally, I decided to share the results with the wider public. I hope that results will help all of us have a better grasp of what holds women back from career progression.

Understanding women‘s perception of barriers in career development is the first step to helping them grow. Read this report to discover conscious and unconscious biases and to break them one by one.

Good news

Career plan

Women know that career planning is essential as it helps to create a detailed path for a professional future. The process of career planning involves identifying our strengths and researching fields that we can excel in. 71.1% of responders declare that they have specific career plans. This proves that the majority wants to be professionally active, and they plan their professional development according to their goals. In the case of the A4BEE team, the result is even higher, but not reaching 100%.

Support from my direct management

Relationship with direct management level is important for all employees, no matter of their seniority nor position. 62.2% of responders feel supported in their career development by direct management. And 82.4% of A4BEE women have visible support from direct management.

Support from within my organization

73.3% of respondents feel supported by their organization. In the case of A4BEE, 88.2%  of our female population thinks like that. In both surveys, more women feel supported by their company than by the first line manager. This gap shows the good role of the company’s wide program and initiatives.

Support from family & friends

Women have strong support from their close ones: families and friends. 93.3% of responders declare that they feel the support of friends and family. It would be great to step forward in self-confidence and learn what our talents are from our families and friends.

Networking

By regularly attending networking events and being active we can develop a reputation of being supportive and reliable. If we share our knowledge and experience at such events,  we also grow a reputation for being knowledgeable. Only 36.4% of the respondents view networking as optional, not strategic, to grow their career. More than 60% of women know the importance of networking in career development. They see great value in expanding the network of professional contacts. Who we network with and their relevance to our career matters. We don’t have to network with everyone. And more and more women learned how to do that.


Bad news?

Good enough?

Self-doubt may prevent women from taking on worthwhile challenges and realizing their potential. 60% of women from the global survey tend to question themselves. They doubt their worthiness. They don’t acknowledge their accomplishments. They think, if they can do it, anybody can. The result for #tech_hive is higher – almost 90% of women doubt their value. At the A4BEE, there are 88.2% of women who lack self-confidence. One of the interpretations of this result is that people from Central & Eastern Europe are less confident and have lower self-esteem than Western cultures like the US.

Even if you are not completely assured of yourself and your capabilities, it is important to appear differently. Starting with changing body language to reflect confidence. Walk  with your head held high, make eye contact, keep your chin up, slow your movements, stand up straight.  The good news is that this change can not only make others believe in your confidence, but it can also change the way you see yourself. 

Branding & presence

68.2% of respondents admitted that they are often uncomfortable talking about themselves and what they bring to the table.  And 100% of women from A4BEE share this feeling. Women are uncomfortable talking about themselves. As women, we must learn to articulate our strengths more often. We need to believe in them. One of the first steps toward that is to take charge of our own personal brands.

Proving value

68.2% of respondents admitted that they are often uncomfortable talking about themselves and what they bring to the table.  And 100% of women from A4BEE share this feeling. Women are uncomfortable talking about themselves. As women, we must learn to articulate our strengths more often. We need to believe in them. One of the first steps toward that is to take charge of our own personal brands.

Making the ‘ask’

Why is it hard to ask for help, especially at work? As many as 47.7% of responders admitted that they have difficulty expressing their needs. Almost half of the women at the workplace are uneasy about asking for help or what they want.  This number is even higher for A4BEE. 64.7% of women in #tech_hive lack of courage to stand up and ask for help. They lack the courage to stand up and ask for help. Asking for help can make us feel vulnerable, and that’s not a comfortable position to be in. This is an important sign for us to make the workplace more collaborative and managers more sensitive to the voice of minorities.


Recommendations

⬡ Believe in yourself

When a woman starts to believe in herself, endless possibilities could open up. Here are 3 ways you can be more confident at work:

  • Take responsibility for career and work. No one else can do it for you.
  • Begin to experiment more. Try something new. Don’t be afraid of being a beginner again.
  • Find a mentor. Remember: confident people are happy to help. They remember the effort it’s taken them to get where they are today.

⬡ Career has no gender

The vital thing is to raise public awareness of the fact that gender should not matter in the professional context. We should instill in young people of both genders the importance of the concept of gender equality from an early age. Recent surveys indicate that over 100 years are needed to close the global gender gap. And it is a leadership responsibility to build an inclusive working culture and not tolerate biased behaviors at the workplace. Raising awareness is starting point.

⬡ Partnership matter

Women have great support from their families in self-development. But in many cases, they are overloaded with family & home duties. Those increased during the pandemic. What could companies do with it? Can we do anything? To fight those biases, we can run programs supporting parents of both genders: mothers and fathers, giving them equal opportunities to spend time with kids. Work-life balance programs and daily culture could help as well. 

The vital thing is to raise public awareness of the fact that gender should not matter in the professional context. We should instill in young people of both genders the importance of the concept of gender equality from an early age. Recent surveys indicate that over 100 years are needed to close the global gender gap. And it is a leadership responsibility to build an inclusive working culture and not tolerate biased behaviors at the workplace. Raising awareness is starting point.


Summary

Despite troubled times, women feel more powerful than ever. Even if they still have difficulties talking about their strength, they already recognize them and have clear plans for their careers. To fully develop and use their potential, they need to change the labor market self-perception and companies’ support to achieve that. Sharing our successes and failures can help others to learn from our experiences. And because we need role models, for ourselves, for our daughters and sons, for society, we should not be afraid of becoming one of them. Cooperation, asking perceived as strong suit not weakness, procedures for equal sharing childcare by female and male workers – that are not simply Women-Day-answers for our pains. That is the agenda to use 21st-century competencies and adjust our mindset to modern times’ challenges and opportunities. 

Change what you can, let it go if you cannot. And have courage to break biases you observe and experience.