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RESPECT: How to Get More of it in the Workplace

Aretha Franklin's song "Respect" is a powerful anthem about demanding respect and recognition from a partner in a romantic relationship. However, the message of the song can also be applied to women's experiences in the workplace. Women who feel a lack of respect in the workplace may relate to the lyrics of the song, which include lines such as "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me".

McKinsey & Company’s recent research reports that lack of respect is one of the reasons many women are deciding to leave their companies to seek jobs in companies where the culture is more respectful and welcoming.

This lack of respect can take many forms. For example, women may feel that their ideas are not taken seriously or that they are interrupted or talked over in meetings. They may also feel that their contributions are not acknowledged or that they are given less credit than their male colleagues for similar work or good results.

All of these factors, and others, can contribute to a general sense of disrespect and devaluation among women in the workplace. This can have serious consequences for their career advancement, as well as their overall well-being and job satisfaction. Therefore, it is important for organizations to recognize and address these issues in order to create a more inclusive and respectful workplace culture.

However, there are several actions every woman should consider taking first, before slamming the door on their current job. It just might make a difference!

Here’s 4 action steps outlined in our STOP Disrespect Method to take before you decide to leave.

S – Speak up. If you are not being heard at meetings by being interrupted or your ideas being hijacked by others. here’s how you can speak up: (1) address the meeting chair by name when you speak, (2) huddle with one or two team members before the meeting and agree to speak up on each other’s behalf should you be interrupted or your contributions hijacked, (3) talk to the meeting chair in advance and let them know you have contributions to make; and if necessary, send them a message reminding them during the meeting.

T - Take time to think about your career goals and the specific role you are reaching for within the organization. You have to know clearly your goal(s) and the role you want, then you can share it with those who can support you to reach that goal.

O – Open your door – both your virtual and physical doors - and invite your manager, mentor and influencers into conversations about your career goals. Often management makes incorrect assumptions about women and the roles they want. Ensure your future by initiating these conversations.

P – Please yourself. Know what needs to change to make you happy. Then ask for what you want. A happy worker, is an effective worker. Retention is a major concern for most companies.And if you are not happy, and your company is not willing to work with you on that, it just may be time to say ‘goodbye’.

Leslie Grossman, Executive Leadership Coach, Faculty Director, Executive Women’s Leadership at The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership; and founder of Her Circle Leadership Women’s Leadership Coach Training Program.


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