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PWN Global Newsletter Q4 2017

Rising to the challenge!

Dear PWN Community,

The recent events in the film, media, tech and other sectors show how challenging it is for women to advance their careers in male dominated cultures and environments. Not only are women frequently discriminated against in development opportunities, promotions and pay, but they often have to deal with attitudes and behaviours from male colleagues which range from indifference to serious harassment.

Many women report that they experience “micro aggressions”, where men assume them to be junior, or make personal comments about their appearance or dress, or try to talk over or undermine them in meetings etc. These harmful episodes are hard for many women to deal with because they are usually in less powerful positions. They are often not sure where the threshold of unacceptable behaviour lies, nor how seriously they will be taken if they complain.

One of the factors driving these behaviours is male privilege – men often don’t recognise that they have enormous advantages in being the dominant group and that actions they take can exclude or harm others. With men holding some 80% of executive roles and the majority of people manager positions, there is a clear need to engage them in raising awareness and changing these attitudes and behaviours.  To be fair, many male colleagues that we work with want to see equal opportunities and treatment for their female counterparts. They also recognise that the best performing and most disruptive organisations are diverse and inclusive. They understand that by discouraging female talent, organisations lose out on innovation and growth!

But many men are unclear about what they can (and need to) do to make a difference – so here is our Number 1 tip for Men – ASK YOUR FEMALE COLLEAGUES AND FAMILY MEMBERS. Find out about their experiences and perspectives and ask them what support they need from you. Then reflect upon how you might need to change your language, attitudes and behaviours.

Men can also find out more about how they can support women from extensive resources on the internet (Google: “ways in which men can support women”) and (may we also point out) on the PWN Global website (under Balanced Leadership). There are also really excellent books like Everyday Sexism, by Laura Bates. Laura collected the stories of women who had experienced sexism and subsequently compiled them in a book. We thoroughly recommend this as a must read for every man!

One other interesting way men can learn more about women’s perspectives in these situations is through Virtual Reality experiences. At Oslo Innovation Week in September PWN Norway hosted a session on changing behaviours through technology and we presented how VR can be used to build empathy between women and men. Yasmine Boudiaf of Serious Datum reported on a project she had been working on with Mercer, the global consulting firm, where micro aggressions by men towards women were filmed using VR cameras. Yasmine had collected real life experiences of women and had put together a number of scenarios which reflected typical examples of these micro aggressions. The films were shot using Mercer “actors” from the women’s perspective with the intention that men could then put on the VR headsets and relive these experiences as if they were the women at the centre of these micro aggressions. 

The men who tried this VR experience were shocked at how revealing this was about the women’s experiences and vowed to reflect this in their attitudes and behaviours in the future.

At PWN Global we are pleased to be at the forefront of changing people’s mind-sets and promoting inclusive and balanced organisations. Encouragingly, the reactions we have seen from many women (and men) to the recent episodes of male behaviour show a huge demand to put these outdated cultures and environments firmly behind us once and for all. We are convinced that women and men can and should work together to achieve this goal!

So, if you haven’t done so already, get in touch with us, join a local city network, volunteer and help us make a difference – you’ll have a great experience, develop yourself and, very importantly, have a lot of fun!

Enjoy your read and make sure to share the news. 

Sonya Richardson, President, PWN Global



Sonya Richardson
PWN Global



Rob Baker
PWN Global

Q4 2017 newsletter introduction note authored by Rob Baker. 


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