Almost Half Of Women Don't Feel Included In The Decision-Making Process At Work

by Emma McGowan
Jacob Lund/Fotolia

Have you ever felt excluded at work? Left out of the conversation? Talked over? Made to feel like you weren’t part of the decision-making process? Well, you’re not alone. A study from the companies Culture Amp and Paradigm found that a lot of workplaces are failing their female employees. And while the issues they uncovered might not rise to a sexual harassment allegations level of nastiness, there’s evidence that even companies that might think they’re doing a great job for their female employees may be failing in one big area: Inclusivity.

“It’s hard to overestimate how important it is to become inclusive,” Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga tells Bustle. “A nine person company can be an inclusive company, even if it’s not broadly representative yet.”

Inclusivity is a tricky topic because, unlike diversity, it’s not easy to quantify. While you can look around a room and count the number of people who are presenting as female, it’s a lot harder to determine who’s feeling left out. That’s why studies like this one are so important — they give us a look at what might be going on in the minds of our coworkers and employees. And for women, they give us the chance to ask — do I feel included at my workplace? If I don’t, what does that mean for me?

Corporate culture has become less and less tolerant of blatant bad behavior in the workplace (at least, as in the case of recent events, when alleged offenders are caught or called out) but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go.

Here are three key findings from the Culture Amp/Paradigm study about ways women are feeling left out in the workplace.


They're Not Part Of The Decision-Making Process

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Previous studies have found that men are much more likely to interrupt and talk over women than vice versa. One study even found that men dominate 75 percent of the time in decision-making conversations.

Those behaviors might contribute to the fact that 48 percent of women in this study did not feel they were included in the decision-making process work. While it’s less than a majority, that number suggests that we all need to do a better job at creating a space for women to speak.


They're Not Included In Decisions

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

In a related finding, 41 percent of the women in this study did not feel they were included in decisions that affect their work. This could be due to the fact that they’re left out of the decision-making process all together, as the data point above found, or it could be that their opinions weren’t taken into account. Either way — not great.


They're Not Allowed To Disagree

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Part of building a solid company and a great company culture is creating a space where different opinions can be shared and talked through. But who are those opinions coming from? Not 34 percent of women in this study, who said they don’t feel they can voice a contrary opinion without fear of negative consequences.

This is something that’s come up a few times recently in high profile cases. For example, former Uber employee Susan Fowler published a long blog post in February outlining all of the gender-based harassment she’d allegedly faced during her time with the car sharing giant, including the alleged negative reactions she says she got from HR when she reported various incidents.

Allegations like Fowler’s and so many others serve as a warning to women everywhere that even companies with solid HR departments aren’t always going to be on our side. Is it a wonder so many women are having a hard time speaking up?