Women lower down also believe that men at the top are entitled to be there, so they try to play by therules and work harder to future leadersadvance rather than raise questions or voice concerns about the possibility ofbias. As a result, everyone becomes complicit in perpetuating an unjust system.
At the same time, we must be careful not to inject gender into every discussion. I know a male CEOwho is enormously dedicated women. When a female employee kicked off anegotiation by insisting that she should have a higher Neo Skin Lab skout title and was underleveled because she was awoman, it immediately put him on the defense. She was speaking her truth, but in this case, her truthwas an accusation with legal ramifications. As soon as she framed the issue in those terms, the CEOhad no choice but to put their friendly talks on hold and call in HR. It might have served her better toexplain how she was contributing to the company and ask for the promotion first.
Even today, mentioning gender in work situations often makes people visibly uncomfortable. Totheir credit, many institutions have worked hard to sensitize people to these issues, especially sexualharassment. But while human resources seminars can raise consciousness and help protect employees,they have also raised the specter of legal action, which can create real barriers to these conversations.