The Invisible Power of Parental Bias

June 28, 20232 Min Read

There isn’t a workplace out there that doesn’t have parental bias, yet no one talks about it.

It’s so baked in by the time we get to working age that we don’t realize how much we’ve assigned certain roles to gender and unwittingly play a role in our careers, companies and their cultures.

If you haven’t really thought about it, consider who did what when you were growing up:

  • Who changed the oil in the car and who changed the diapers?
  • Who dropped you off at school and who dropped the credit card on the restaurant check?
  • Who made the meals and who made the money?
  • Who taught you how to get a stain out of clothes and who taught you how to get them dirty?
  • Who gave you a bath and who mowed the lawn?

Whatever your answers, gender roles play a huge role in how you expect women and men to act in all facets of all your life.

At work, this influences how you see your bosses and co-workers, new hires, team members – and yourself. And it’s an even bigger challenge because we don’t associate our parental bias as a workplace issue – which means it’s left even more unchecked.

Parental bias influences how you see everyone, but when was the last time you thought about how that impacts you and others negatively?

  • How does influence you to jump to conclusions or assume a quality or characteristic without question?
  • How does do you perceive another person’s aptitude, focus or commitment to their job?
  • How does it influence the social connections you make, or put more effort into?

Again, we all have parental bias, and we need to start thinking about how it affects us in the workplace.

When we become conscious of it, we can counteract it with deep presence, keen awareness and the willingness to disassemble what we often can’t even see.

It takes being open and gracious with ourselves, as we work toward an equitable lens.

Moving forward, ask yourself, “How can I get curious about neutralizing parental and gender roles to give everyone a fair shot?” and, most importantly,

“What would the workplace look like if parental bias didn’t exist?”

You can learn more about how to do this in your workplace here, but we want to take it one step further.