Create inclusion through sociocratic meetings
How Sociocracy supports the “Silent Gender”
As we described in previous articles, creating inclusiveness through digital accessibility is one of mondora’s goals.
To achieve this result, we try to establish a culture of inclusion that starts from the organization itself, adopting sociocracy as decision method.
In this article, we will show how business meetings highlight potential social disparities, in particular (but not only) those of gender, and how at the same time meetings have the potential to create a land of inclusive collaboration.
Company meeting and feminine voice
As many studies report, during work meetings, women intervene and speak less, compared to male colleagues.
An analysis of 155,000 conference calls, for example, showed that the male voice was dominant for 92% of the time. A huge difference, only partially explained by the meeting gender composition. Other studies confirmed this gap, even when groups were gender-balanced. This phenomenon was observed in many contexts, such as the political or the academic.
Not only do women talk less than men, but they are more frequently interrupted by both male and female colleagues. This phenomenon demonstrates that women’s opinions are given less importance at a cultural level.
Why does this happen?
Several theories explain this phenomenon. One hypothesis is that women are more reluctant to intervene during meetings because they are aware of being judged. Culturally, women are less encouraged to express their authoritativeness and assertiveness. These traits are often interpreted as “bullying” and “aggressiveness” and poorly associated with the female sex.
A second theory indicates that women have fewer opportunities to express themselves, are given less speech, and are more often ignored or interrupted.
Both hypotheses may be correct, creating a vicious circle: the general cultural context that, since early childhood, creates in women a general insecurity in attending meetings, makes them more passive and operational rather than active and decision-making. In the same way, the current working environment, coined on this model, strengthens this vision and the woman who tries to get out of the scheme can feel ignored, humiliated and finally demoralized.
How can we get out of this loop?
As we have already told in previous articles, in mondora we have introduced sociocracy, a method of governance based on integrating everybody’s opinions.
Sociocratic meetings are orchestrated by a facilitator, who in turn gives the right to speak to all circle members. For each proposal submitted, everyone is interviewed. This happens even if the person does not ask to speak or has nothing particular to say.
One of the effects of organizing meetings with this method is to limit differences by creating an environment where all voices find space, including those of women who are driven to give their opinion and cannot be interrupted.
Sociocracy has as its basic principle the equivalence of opinions. This concept is evident in speech shifts, in which the same space is given to all circle members, whether they are senior or junior, male or female, native or non-native speakers.
The decision-making process is shared as well: everyone must agree on the proposals to be confirmed. So, even a junior or someone who is part of a minority can potentially stop it. A step forward for those who belong to a gender that, for cultural reasons, struggle to be assertive.
In this process, the role of the facilitator is fundamental. Having the power to give the right to speak, he/she is perhaps the only element that can cause a gender imbalance, because of the cultural bias we talked about (affecting both men and women).
It is therefore essential that facilitators receive training not only on the practical sides of sociocracy, but on the cultural sides too, exploring the values of this methodology.