A book published in 2019 by author Caroline Criado Perez synthesised perfectly the frustrations, hazards, and inefficiencies of the world we live in, a world built for (and largely by) men - from the misogynistic car AI that only responded to a woman’s husband, to women in Britain being 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack. The average office temperature is 5℃ too cold for women, the calculations for which are based on the ideal for a 40 year old, 70 kilogram man.
We are finding more and more through questioning the status quo that these structural inequalities and data biases are inefficient and costly, not just to individuals, but businesses and communities. Using men as the default for data goes to the root of healthcare, government policy, technology, and more, and is the legacy of centuries of seeing women as ‘Other’, subordinate beings.
So what does this mean for digital agencies and businesses on international women’s day, and every other day? Well, there’s not much you can do about the fact that smart phone size is designed for mens’ hands and therefore often too large for women. You can, however, make sure you’re doing what you can to advocate for women, in small and large ways in your business.
- Is your management team diverse, representing women and BIPOC? If not, are you making sure you’re consulting with members of your team to ensure that your work space is inclusive?
- Do you have regular anonymous staff surveys which enable all members of staff to give honest feedback about diversity and inclusion at work?
- Are you providing support to staff to educate themselves on and advocate for gender issues in the workplace? What seminars, discussions, and workshops are you a part of?
- Do you allow flexibility to support childcare arrangements for both fathers and mothers, including adequate paternity leave and ongoing flexibility?
- How do you provide additional support to members of staff with gendered issues such as sexual harassment, diverse fertility and childcare situations, or gendered healthcare circumstances? (Note the use of the word gendered is to say that these matters impact all people in different ways and to varying degrees).
Making sure that your workplace is an inclusive and welcoming place for all people is a worthwhile investment, without which you might be left behind entirely. And, in all honesty, if you choose to deny women of opportunity and inclusion, maybe you deserve to stay there.