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Ontological arrogance is our tendency to think that the way in which we experience a place is the way that everyone experiences a place. We see our truth as The Truth. It is very easy, for example, if you are a dude in a dude dominated workforce to believe that gender isn’t really an issue. It is easy to think that it is not an issue, because it has not been an issue in your experience.  If you believe that gender is not an issue, it is also easy to believe that people who want to talk about gender at work have some personal “axe to grind.”

We do not, in fact, experience the workplace in the same way. We are different human beings having different experiences. Not only do we perceive and interpret situations and interactions differently, we are treated differently.

A specific and relentless example; women are much more likely to be interrupted at work than men. A great excerpt from a recent piece on this topic from The Establishment:

“Psychological and linguistic research has long shown that gender plays a significant role in interruptions. In groups or one-on-one conversations, in social or professional contexts, women are disproportionately interrupted by both men and by women. And, no, this is not because women are more talkative (a common misconception): men actually talk more than women.”

We can pay lip service to diversity and inclusion all day long. We can say wonderful things about authenticity and innovation. We can pat ourselves on the back for not being biased, not being sexist. Despite the best of intentions, we do not treat each other the same way, things like gender (and race) matter.

What will you do in your organization to stop interrupting women?

Be good, or be good at it.

-joe

Categories: Accountability, Diversity

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