AuthorEuropean Institute for Gender Equality (EU body or agency)
European Institute for Gender Equality34
Part 3. Act
How can I combat sexism?
An eight-step programme for
This section will present an eight-step programme for management and leadership
to start tackling sexism in their organisation. The following section will outline what
action all staff can take to implement culture change in their organisation.
1. Check your own awareness on sexism
How did you do in the ‘Test yourself’ section? Ensure your own understanding of sex-
ism and sexual harassment to ensure your credibility.
Remember that people who believe that they are not sexist are less objective and
more likely to behave in a sexist way.
You can test your own biases with the Harvard Implicit Bias Test, developed by the
University of Harvard (
Image: You can test your own biases to ensure your understanding of sexism and sexual
Sexism at work: how can we stop it?
Part 3. Act
2. Be vocal about your commitment
Managers should find out what training their organisation offers on sexism, harass-
ment, bias and diversity. They should unambiguously and consistently state their
commitment to eradicating sexist behaviour and practices in their organisation.
Concerns about organisational inaction and repercussions can prevent those who
are experiencing sexism from speaking up.
[O]rganisations striving to uphold high ethical standards cannot rely on rules and
enforcement mechanisms alone. Instead, they must support their ambitions by de-
veloping an appropriate culture of integrity.
Source: European Court of Auditors (78).
As the #MeToo movement and campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism Project have
shown, just because sexism is not reported or spoken about does not mean peo-
ple are not experiencing it. As you saw in the ‘Understand’ section, sexist behaviour
and practices are prevalent across society and work contexts.
When the European Central Bank made a public commitment to diversity and
took several measures to officially support gender balance, the promotion gap
between women and men disappeared (79).
3. Take the pulse of your organisation
Your team may feel comfortable sharing their experiences of sexism, but often they will
prefer anonymity. You can carry out an audit via an anonymous survey. Involving
an external provider can also be helpful. Check with your human resources team for
further advice.
Suggest to your team that they complete the ‘Test yourself’ section of this
“We strive for an environment where sexism has no place, where everyone can feel
safe, properly respected, and treated with dignity. Such commitment must come not
only from all levels of management, but from all staff, too.”
William Shapcott, Director-General of Organisational Development and Services,
Council of the European Union
(78) European Court of Auditors, 2019.
(79) European Central Bank, The gender promotion gap: evidence from central banking  Working
paper series, European Central Bank, Frankfurt, 2019 (

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