Stereotypes can disrupt the company's work
Stereotypes - fairly persistent and very simplified images that are rooted in a given nation, social group or individual. Culturally or family inherited, we naturally take over. Therefore, we often stubbornly believe that they reflect reality, making it difficult for us to transform our way of thinking. However, it is worth changing your attitude, because stereotypes can have a very negative impact on both the company and the entire labor market.
Models of typically male and female behavior are propagated in pre-school and early school-age children. Boys are taught independence and assertiveness, and are criticized for caring and submissive behavior. In contrast, girls are shown the value of interpersonal relationships and emotions. In adulthood, this translates into having developed power competences in men and typically highly emotional behaviors in women.
However, stereotypes go further - they show simplified rules defining what the representatives of particular genders are or should be like. Thus, it is a generally accepted fact that women are bad drivers and boys (men) don't cry. What's more, our everyday language also includes other recommendations that put pressure on people of different sexes, for example: women should ... for a man ...
The influence of stereotypes is very evident in the roles that both sexes assume in the traditional family model. He places a burden on the woman twice - with household and work responsibilities, while the man focuses mainly on the latter. A similar gender segregation can be observed in the labor market. Some jobs are perceived as typically female (kindergarten teacher) and others as typically male (truck driver).
Stereotypes also translate into promotion opportunities. Women trying to get it face such phenomena as:
escalators - the better position of men in women's professions causes them to be promoted to higher managerial positions, because in such a situation men should not do otherwise,
glass ceiling - a barrier that prevents women from following the normal career path on the basis of gender,
sticky floor - the dominance of women in lower-status professions, which also do not offer opportunities for promotion.
The effects of such phenomena are clearly visible on the Polish labor market. Women occupy only of managerial positions, few of them act as directors or presidents (according to estimates it is only 2%).
It can also be deduced which industries disapprove of women the most - only 10% of them work in IT, which looks unfavorable, especially when compared to education (77.5%), social welfare and health care (80%).
However, stereotypes may concern not only gender, but also individual groups functioning in the company. This situation can be encountered especially in enterprises with an extensive structure. The usual patterns of thinking will be related primarily to professional differences, scope of duties or tasks performed. They can also accompany competition for better wages or rewards.
By using stereotypes, in both situations, employees want to increase the value of their group and gain domination.
However, managers should try to control such behavior, because it can cause people to deepen in differences, mutual suspicion and distrust, and ultimately even destroy collaboration or decrease the efficiency and quality of work of teams.
Nowadays, not only large corporations, but also ordinary companies are international in character. Such an atmosphere also contributes to the emergence of conflicts, the source of which may be, first of all, diversity and misunderstandings in communication, which may be caused, but also distrust and prejudices derived from stereotypes.
It usually starts with subtle discrimination - telling jokes about people from another country and the protectionism of managers who are even trying to over-protect ethnic minorities in the company.
Stereotypes can join this. There are, of course, positives, such as the fact that Germany is diligent and hardworking. However, in an international company, the negative ones will come to the fore most quickly, for example, the Greeks are lazy.
Failure to react to the growing national conflicts in the company may contribute to mutual intolerance, and thus - cause serious problems with communication.
Manager versus stereotypes
Protecting the company from the negative influence of stereotypes is primarily the responsibility of the manager. From the moment of recruitment, he should treat women and men equally. Thanks to this, he will be able to check more qualified candidates. Research carried out in 2005 on the recommendation of the European Commission shows that equal employment opportunities for both sexes positively affect the efficiency and competitiveness of companies.
Then, while managing the team, great emphasis should be placed on educating employees, as well as on sharing experience. Such actions may turn out to be crucial in breaking down stereotypes existing between particular teams.
However, if you want to deal with national prejudices, it is worth organizing multicultural trainings, which can help build understanding, respect and tolerance between employees.