When trying to succeed in business, confidence is one of the key factors a person needs to showcase. Confidence is not necessarily just believing you are the best at what you do, but rather also knowing one’s self-worth, believing in what you represent and having a strong sense of self. You always do your best. All this combined creates a person who is not afraid to lead, is consistent and grounded, able to succeed because they have trust in themselves to succeed. Confidence benefits both the employer and the employee – a confident employee is able to build a successful career, showcase their business ability and contribute significantly to the company. Such a company is sure to be able to execute operations efficiently and succeed due to its capable employees.

Although we can conclude that confidence is crucial when it comes to success in professional life, sadly, the so-called imposter syndrome is still very much present – research shows it is emblematic especially in women. Studies show that not only are women more likely to be less confident due to socialisation into prevailing gender norms of humbleness and servitude, but are also likely to question their own abilities. Women make up half of the U.S. workforce and hold almost 60 % of advanced degrees, but also earn less in their industries. Moreover, due to so-called ‘occupational sorting’, women choose careers at a lower level which also yield lower payer and lower contributions because they, according to the research, are more likely to feel as if they are not capable to perform at complex jobs (Gerdeman, 2019). What is more, they are less likely to contribute in group discussions due to this lack of confidence, and also shrug praise off and underestimate their capabilities. The most distressing fact here is that even women who are acclaimed professionals in their field showcase such behaviour (Gerdeman, 2019).

Perception of yourself. A study done by Coffman in 2018 found that women have much less confidence in believing in their capabilities when it comes to fields that are traditionally seen as male-dominated, such as math, cars, sports and business. Even when given positive feedback about their performance, women still rated their ability significantly lower than men did. Lastly, the study found that both, men and women, consistently discounted good news about their performance in the fields in which their gender is perceived to be less capable in. Stereotypes have perpetrated the fabric of society so deep that it has become increasingly complicated to actually convince persons of their ability and talent in the fields in which they believe their gender underperforms.

Making mistakes. Another factor that contributes to lack of confidence that women face in their professional life is the fact that they are more likely to receive a punishment more severe than their male counterpart for the same offence. A study done in the U.S. analysed the consequences of committing mistakes in the workplace for men and women. Its results showed that men are more likely to commit mistakes, however, when they are given bonuses, the sum tends to be around 20 % bigger than what women receive. Furthermore, women are 20 % more likely to be fired due to the mistake and they are 30 % less likely to find a job in the same industry after they have been fired due to making mistake, when compared to men (Blanding, 2018).

Different treatment. Overall, although both, men and women, underrate their performance in fields which are not associated with their gender, the additional factor of being treated differently further erodes women’s confidence. Gender diversity in the workplace can bring benefits on its own as well, but further biases need to be acknowledged and dealt with in order for the company to reap full benefits that gender balance brings. Installing confidence into all employees will benefit the company not only in being able to establish a workplace where everyone has equal ability and opportunity to contribute, but also in increasing productivity and efficiency, as well as success rates, due to the wider set of ideas and increased competence of employees.

There are numerous ways of resolving the issue of lack of confidence in the workplace by addressing the conscious as well and subconscious bias. For example, through GEMA Certificate process, we help companies identify ways to overcome the problem and achieve gender diversity and balance in the work environment. By establishing strong support networks within the workplace, the so-called ‘loving critics’ who offer support and constructive advice to women, your female employees will not hesitate as much, contributing more innovative ideas and increasing their performance. These cheerleaders are not meant only for tough times, when encouraging confidence is necessary, but they also contribute a sense of perspective. Furthermore, when awarding or punishing employees, objective performance factors should be taken into account. Overcoming the subconscious bias is not easy, and following objective KPIs for all employees will result in equal treatment, instilling a sense of trust in employees as well as removing fear of backlash. Lastly, just the simple step of encouraging female employees to speak up, share ideas and acknowledging their contributions in the company can represent the beginning of a more balanced work environment.


Blanding, M. (2018, December 18). Women Receive Harsher Punishment at Work Than Men. Harvard Business School. Available at

Gerdeman, D. (2019, February 25). How Gender Stereotypes Kill a Woman’s Self-Confidence. Harvard Business School. Available at

Jepsen, S. (2019, January 4). 3 Ways Women Can Close the Confidence Gap. Entrepreneur. Available at

Jones, A. (2019, November 25). Bridging the confidence gap at work means forming new habits. Financial Times. Available at


Men and women alike face the problem of balancing their private life and their career. This has led employers to develop numerous solutions in order to improve their business’s work environment, one of the most popular arrangements being flexible working.

A research conducted by prof. Wheatley shows that flexible working is associated with higher leisure time satisfaction in both men and women. Increased individual control over the timing and location of work brings higher productivity of employees, better general mood in the workplace and easier balancing of work and family life. Moreover, flexible working has numerous benefits for the company – employees are available to customers outside traditional working hours, which contributes to better customer relations; the company’s image improves as it becomes family-friendly, gender-balanced and attractive to millennial/younger employees; costs lower since employees are less likely to take long-term sick leave; employee loyalty rises.

However, actual company practices related to flexible working show some imperfections. Research conducted in the UK between the years 2001 and 2011 shows that women in flexible working arrangements experience lower job satisfaction. According to Wheatley (2017) approximately 40 % of women choose part-time or term-time working. The latter means they are only actively employed for a certain number of weeks a year. The time they don’t spend in active employment is organised in regular intervals which are usually accounted for by annual and unpaid leave. Both part-time and term-time working reflect societal gender-norms regarding the caring for children, which is supposed to be the primary role of women.

Furthermore, according to a King’s College London research conducted in 2015, 25 % of women in flexible working arrangement felt their superiors don’t take them seriously. Over 35 % of women surveyed also felt they have to put in more hours to show their commitment, leading to 20 % of them putting in 10 or more extra hours a week. Such restrictive flexible working practices can make women feel trapped, since their chances of career advancement are limited, and they are often employed in low-skill jobs below their qualifications. Overall, women in flexible working arrangements experience lower job satisfaction than men in similar arrangements. For men, flexible working is more of a choice than an obligation, so a huge gender gap can be observed regarding the use of traditional flexible working arrangements.

Despite the numerous positive aspects of flexible working, employers are not always able to make possible for their employees to utilize it efficiently, which can lead to negative externalities within the working process.

If just providing flexible working arrangements is not enough, how can a company benefit from them? Some of the solutions put forward by the previously mentioned research, which are also part of the GEMA certificate, are the following:

(1) Educating the senior staff not to neglect employees in flexible working arrangements. Since the senior staff are the ones who grant flexible working to their employees, open lines of communication are crucial in not making employees feel intimidated or ashamed in asking for what they need.

(2) Although flexible working employees are one of the most productive, they are rarely promoted. Moreover, the productivity reports of women who have just returned from maternity leave are often graded lower due to less working hours. In order to avoid such discrepancies, performance reviews should be based on objective indicators which do not discriminate based on gender or the working arrangement of an employee.

(3) Enabling equal opportunities for both men and women is of key importance. Women should not feel obligated to work part-time just because it is expected of them to spend more time taking care of their family. It is crucial to overcome societal gender norms.

(4) Establishing a mentor scheme can help employees immensely. Mentors take on the role of an advisor while providing support to those employees who are not part of the traditional company working schedule.



In the era of globalised economy and exponentially increasing market competition, workplace diversity is the only mechanism employers can use to benefit from all of their employees’ potential while also building an inclusive work culture. Although the latter is often considered as a requirement for success, many companies still find it difficult to implement.

Each and every one of us is comprised of various complex identity perceptions that affect not only the way we perceive ourselves but also how others see us. Moreover, an important part of our identity is comprised of personal circumstances which we have no influence over – sex, race, nationality (as well as disability, sexual orientation, etc.). If we feel at odds with the majority of our workplace due to one of these circumstances, it can become a personal issue. A research conducted by Catalyst in the USA in 2014,[1] examining the feeling of otherness and its effect on the opportunities, advancement and aspirations of employees, paints a thought-provoking picture. When a person develops feelings of otherness, their opportunities of advancement and chances of accessing senior-level mentors within the work process (or entering mentorship schemes in general) diminish. Furthermore, such individuals also face the probability of lowering self-expectations and expectations within their workplace. Women participants who have experienced feelings of otherness were nearly twice as likely to have reported a “great” or “very great” negative impact on their career due to the lack of participation in visible projects that would have advanced their career. According to the findings of the research, these women attribute the lack of career advancement opportunities to their personal identity circumstances. In addition, women who felt racially or ethnically different in their workplace were more likely to downsize their career aspirations within a given organisation.

To ensure inclusivity, an employee’s workplace (including their co-workers and superiors) has to communicate two things: (1) that the employee is valued for their unique capabilities and (2) that despite their personal circumstances, they belong in the workplace. Catalyst cites four characteristics that are key for an inclusive leader – EACH (empowerment, acknowledgement, courage, humility). A good leader empowers employees, acknowledging their good practices and encouraging excellency in work; he/she is capable of humility, admitting their mistakes and ensuring they are part of a normal working process. Furthermore, a good and inclusive leader shows courage, performs in spite of all (personal) burdens and obstacles, passing such an attitude onto others as well. He/she takes on new tasks, takes risks in order to achieve higher goals, while at the same time encouraging their employees to do the same. Finally, what makes a good and inclusive leader is the ability to recognize their team’s good work and present it as such publicly.

Due to the prevalence of organisational culture within most institutions, there is still a long way to go before inclusive working environments become the norm. In the process of achieving inclusivity, obtaining and implementing the GEMA certificate can be of great help to you and your organisation. In order to transform your current workplace into an inclusive one and your senior employees into inclusive leaders, you certainly need some degree of courage which will pay off. Implementing the GEMA certificate will increase your market competitiveness by enabling your employees to present their new ideas on an equal basis, allowing them to feel better in their workplace, therefore also working more efficiently. What is more, the culture of your organisation will change throughout the process as well. Only such an innovative and dynamic work environment will enable you to maintain the finest personnel, while also attracting new candidates. Implementing GEMA brings gender-neutral ways of creating inclusive workplaces, which in turn enables the improvement of work processes and general mood of your employees.

[1] The reasearch “Report: Feeling Different: Being “The Other” in the US Workplace” can be accessed at:


Physical certificates are hard to store, display, distribute and verify. In order to ease its management, we pioneered GEMA as a blockchain certificate in partnership with 0xcert, a Slovene blockchain tech company. How will this benefit you or your company?

Digitalisation and easy verification

GEMA as a digital blockchain certificate is easy to manage. Digitalisation allows for a simple and efficient way of verifying the certificate’s authenticity and validity. Imagine how much time and paperwork you can save by applying to a call for tender with a digitalised certificate.

Preventing misuse/counterfeits

As soon as the GEMA certificate is written into the blockchain, it is impossible to modify it retrospectively, which effectively prevents its misuse.

Transparency and traceability

Blockchain allows for complete transparency and traceability of the distributed certificates, ensuring they were issued by the Gender Equality Research Institute, the only credible issuer of the GEMA certificate.


The key effect that these benefits have is the credibility brought to the relationship with your clients and business partners by trustworthy and verifiable digital certificates, such as the GEMA blockchain certificate.

GEMA blockchain certificate can be purchased/obtained through Evidenspace platform, which is easy to use and does not require pre-existing technical blockchain knowledge.

Purchasing process

  1. By clicking on this link, you will be taken to the Evidenspace platform, where you can add the “GEMA blockchain certificate” product into your basket.
  2. Register before you continue with the purchase.
  3. Create a digital wallet (with your username and password) or connect with your digital wallet if you already have one.
  4. Finish your purchase with a credit card.
  5. Wait until the Gender Equality Research Institute (issuer) verifies and approves your certificate.


By embedding the GEMA digital blockchain certificate in your website or e-mail signature you can enable easy verification for your customers. On the physical certificate, there is a QR code which takes you to the blockchain guarantee of authenticity verification when scanned.

Technical background

Evidenspace platform uses blockchain technology as its base. Although this technology is highly complex, it is skillfully hidden in the background of the platform and does not restrict an amateur user from utilising Evidenspace.

The platform is built on Ethreum, a public blockchain infrastructure. This enables the distribution and management of non-fungible tokens (standard ERC-721), digital duplicates of unique physical licenses, such as certificates, diplomas, guarantees of origin, guarantees of authenticity and others.

The issuer of GEMA certificate, Gender Equality Research Institute, issues the blockchain certificate through its business profile on the Evidenspace platform. The certificate is issued as a non-fungible token, which is transferred from the digital wallet of the issuer to the digital wallet of the certificate recipient, based on a smart contract.

Each certificate is defined with metadata, such as the recipient’s name, issue date, expiration date, a unique number, etc. Metadata is encrypted in a 64-digit code within each non-fungible token in the blockchain.

Looking towards the future

Intangible ownership

Blockchain technology is the first in history to offer intangible ownership in the digital world. Often, individuals are not the actual owners of their data or original files and documents they receive. These are actually owned by companies or third parties who store and manage the data on their centralised servers, which can lead to its loss or misuse. By using blockchain infrastructure, all your non-fungible tokens (e .g. certificates and other data) can be stored in a digital wallet which can only be accessed by you.

Digital identity of the company

Various certificates, such as ISO, EKO, credit excellence, GEMA certificate, Family Friendly Enterprise, etc. make up a company’s identity, influencing the way companies build relationships with their partners and clients. By combining trustworthy blockchain certificates, we are creating a digital identity of your company which will reaffirm its credibility to the client.


The impact of competitiveness on gender equality in the workplace

There are many different ways to talk about workplace competitiveness: the easiest one is to describe competitiveness as solely an individual trait that a man or woman either possesses or does not possess. This overlooks a very rich tradition of introducing competitiveness (and, consequently, rewards and promotion) by superiors in an organization, with the aim of encouraging work zeal and thus job performance. Furthermore, this assessment overlooks an important fact of gender bias that prevents non-stereotypically behaved men and women from competing fairly.

There are several reasons for such a situation. Firstly, taking into account structural barriers women face in pursuing higher job positions in their professional careers: gender stereotypes that develop already during primary socialization leads women to select stereotypically female professions. Further on, after graduation, women who want or hope to move forward face the glass ceiling. Including into this also the pay gap and unpaid domestic labour that women face, it is obvious that female entry into work competition is difficult, to say the least.

Moreover, behavioural economists have recently provided further explanations of gender disparities – both in the stage of education and later when looking at the results that both genders are achieving at work. In controlled experimental environments, scientists found that choices of both genders are influenced by differences in preferences, beliefs, and identification with a socially attributed gender role (based on internalized gender stereotypes). Out of the observed behavioural traits, competitiveness proved to be one of the most important predictors of career progress and later on, income. Experiments have shown that women are avoiding competing in advance, and even more interestingly, that women, after having failed in some form of workplace competition, never again decide to try again. The test shows us the impact of pre-cultivated gender stereotypes and gender norms for women; competitiveness and hierarchy of the employees according to competences are shown to women as unnatural or even unacceptable processes in which they will always loose.

The scientists also offered to women and men several different rewards for their success at performing a task. Men and women in the experiment had to decide on the type of the reward they would want to receive: the first option was based solely on individual’s performance, the second option was to receive a higher reward if a person outperformers the rest of the contestants. Women in the majority selected the first, simpler option that requires neither confrontation nor competition with other employees in an organisation. Women, who tried to compete with others in the first round and lost, decided in 60% that they will no longer continue competing and would not re-enter the competition. Interestingly, to put it bluntly, just over 20% of men who lost at the beginning decided to make a similar decision [1]. Given that competition today is a daily practice of work processes and that it takes place in most work environments – from promotion opportunities to funding opportunities (research, additional training, scholarships, etc.) in the context of understanding competitiveness in organizations, it is imperative that we also speak about the impact that competitions has on gender mainstreaming in an enterprise.

Given that failure is a component of every individual’s career, it takes good leadership to manage professional failures of the employees at the workplace.

In the long haul, competitiveness emphasizes, in particular, the merits of success or blame for the failure of each individual, but neglects the strength and positive qualities of the group. Especially highly qualified women will certainly lose in this field, as they try to avoid this type of career-building, and the potential failures affect them more negatively than their male counterparts. Again, this can be explained by the low proportion of women in high-level positions – let’s just mention that in 2019 Fortune magazine proclaimed the highest proportion of women among the 500 most successful CEOs and U.S. directors to date – and this proportion is still less than 7%.

Companies that are aware of the importance of creating a stimulating work environment that anticipates the presence of gender stereotypes and the presence of structural barriers, can certainly avoid the passivity and disinterest of female employees by implementing GEMA Certificate measures. Namely, they enable the processes that will influence your company’s understanding of gender stereotypes and unconscious biases at the workplace. The measures will influence objective employment processes through the implementation of new actions to enhance employee satisfaction at work. Namely, in the process of implementing the Certificate, existing gender stereotypes are constantly addressed and sought to be eliminated so as to create a stimulating work environment in which both genders can succeed.

[1] The full survey and its findings are available at Do Women Give Up Competing More Easily? Evidence from the Lab and the Dutch Math Olympiad, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Vol. 11, No 3, July 2019.


Work satisfaction of (all) your employees

Every company that wants to offer its employees a stimulating work environment in the age of relentless competition has to start with employee satisfaction. This is an investment with long-term and far-reaching consequences that gives the company more opportunities to develop, while the employees are given the environment to which they are happy to return to.

There is no uniform definition of work satisfaction; however, science from the field of organisational structures agrees that precisely work satisfaction merits a lot of energy, time and financial resources by the company, since its gains are, in comparison to the inputs, multiplied. Work satisfaction depends on the individual predispositions that each employee cultivates about himself/herself,  his/her work and job position, and last but not least, his/her professional ambitions. In addition to this personal belief, employee satisfaction at work is influenced by a large number of other factors, which shows both the complexity and the importance of this concept. In the section Human Resource Management (1998, Faculty of Social Sciences, Ljubljana, p. 152), Ivan Svetlik associates employee satisfaction with the satisfaction of four basic needs:

(1) material needs – these are needs gathered in “to have”, which we satisfy with our salary and other material benefits that employment brings;

(2) safety needs – safety deriving from the stability of our employment (financial security of the future) and social and health insurance deriving from employment contract. In this context we also talk about safety in its most basic form: safety at workplace and within the environment to which we are exposed everyday during work.

(3) social needs – employees are satisfied when they cultivate good relationships with other employees (both superiors and subordinates), when these lead them to bee included into different forms of team work. This raises their work satisfaction and their performance at work.

(4) personal needs – the need to ‘be’, whereby we measure the ability of employees to participate in decision-making processes, access to additional education and trainings.

Adding to this are key points of human relations theories (Strauss, 1968) that explain that the well-being of an employee increases his/hers morale at work; or the theory of emotions (Straw et. al., 1994) which shows that employee’s emotional states are significantly related to their productivity levels.

Even if we measure the performance of an organization through profit alone: the studies conducted by Edmans (2011 and 2012) showed a clear link between employee satisfaction and long-term returns in the stock market. Companies that recorded higher levels of employee satisfaction between the years 1984 and 2011 had in this same period also between 2.3% and 3.8% higher profitability than the industry average.

In our time of fast global changes and technology advances it is imperative that companies and organisations do not forget about their employees and their respective values, feelings and their attitudes towards their workplace – which is something that even the most advanced technologies cannot offer.

On the other hand, the entry of technology and artificial intelligence into various work processes could represent a danger for positive relationships established among employees, which truly points out that the success of a company today depends on the level of satisfaction of employees in a company.

In December 2018 A. T. Kearney performed a research that aimed to check satisfaction (as a person’s primary emotion – positive well-being towards which an individual strives) and broader experience and feelings that individuals experience during work. They selected 500 employees from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region. Employees’ responses shed light on an important indicator: how do the employees interpret the feeling of satisfaction and to which other concepts they relate it to. Most of the respondents related job satisfaction to their direct feelings of harmony at work, their influence and recognition for the work they are performing. According to results of the research, every worker wants his/hers work to be appreciated and that the employer recognises the efforts he or she deserves.  

In addition to this, A. T. Kearney survey showed that it is very important for workers to believe that the work done by the organization has a broader positive impact on society: not only an immediate one, but also in the long term. Satisfied employees also achieve consensus more easily than the rest and more easily work together towards the vision of the organization. Especially for the generation of millennials who will shape our future, acting toward a larger goal is a necessary work-related motivation. Although research shows that gender is not directly affecting by employee satisfaction, employers should be aware of the unconscious gender biases, stereotypes, and prejudice that can potentially harm both genders in the workplace and thus reduce overall employee satisfaction.

For all companies and organisations that value employee satisfaction obtaining GEMA Certificate means a step towards the right direction. By acquiring the latter and making the changes that GEMA introduces to the structure and culture of the organisation, GEMA actively engages in all four (4) mentioned spheres of employee needs, thus facilitating higher levels of their work satisfaction. It offers measures to address work and life balance of all employees (remember, above all, women face barriers at the workplace as a consequence of their domestic work and vice versa), regulations of the pay get (ensuring equal pay satisfaction), gender balance at all levels and consequential influence of all employees on work-processes, building of an inclusive organisational culture that provides a space for integration of suggestions and ideas of the employees that work towards a vision of their organisation.


Achieving better business results with innovative methods of ensuring equal opportunities

On Thursday, September 26, Minister for Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Ms. Ksenija Klampfer awarded the first GEMA certificates at the 2019 Managerial Congress (which is annually organized by the Managers’ Association of Slovenia, and this year hosted more than 450 managers). In the first generation of certificate recipients are:

  • Bisnode D&B Southern Market d.o.o.
  • Public company Komunala Brežice d.o.o.
  • Istost d.o.o. (Nelipot)

The GEMA Certificate (Gender Equality Management Assessment) is the first certificate of a social corporate responsibility, which enables effective implementation of gender equality in organizational structure, culture and working processes of companies (and other organizations). Given the emerging awareness that every business is driven by its (satisfied in motivated) employees, GEMA Certificate is an indispensable tool that is not only in line with value-led and sustainable entrepreneurship, but also provides companies of high added value with progressive solutions of 21st century by improving their long-term business performance. It has been proven that companies with best gender equality state of art have even 15 % more chances of higher financial returns.

Since the GEMA Certificate was created in close cooperation with five Slovenian companies (of different size and geographical location), including a public company, its content is fully tailored to the business environment, and is therefore able to actually contribute to gender equality in recruitment procedures and in the workplace.

It is based on ten sets of measures, including, inter alia, impartial employment and promotion, work-life balance, regulation of the gender pay gap, a mentoring system, effective mechanisms for preventing harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, and methods to strengthen an inclusive organizational culture on all levels of the business’ operation. Each company is also subjected to an independent set of checks on the balanced representation of women and men in the company, not only in managerial positions, but also in individual sectors or departments, and at the level of employment itself.

Otherwise, the synchronous and reciprocal interaction of the implemented measures envisaged by the GEMA Certificate enables companies (and other organizations) to optimize their human resources, improve the efficiency of the work flow and, above all, increase the level of employees’ well-being in the workplace. This not only contributes to the higher financial returns of the certified companies, but also enhances their reputation (both at home and abroad). This makes it possible to effectively tackle the challenges of attracting and retaining the best staff, which in today’s globalized and highly competitive business world is a significant challenge.


Gender equality and traits that define good leaders

Even though women still take a minority part of managerial positions in the economy,[1] the argument “men are born leaders” now represents a thing of a past. Research shows that companies with a higher proportion of women in leadership positions have been proven to generate 35% higher returns on their capital and the companies in which women take 30% of leadership positions create 6% higher profits (EIGE 2019). However, can this success be attributed indirectly also to the inclusive policies of the companies that offer their employees the feeling of being valued and appreciated, regardless their gender? Namely, the core cause of women taking only a minor part of leadership positions cannot be found in lesser competence or performance of women, but in stereotypical roles that are attached to either gender in our society. When the latter is surpassed, all employees (regardless of their personal circumstances such as gender) have the possibility for full self-realisation of their potentials.

Have you ever heard that men are intellectually superior and more determined? Or that women are emotionally unstable? What about men caring more about achievement, progress and work than women, due to which the most successful managers possess masculine attributes? All of those are proven to be mere gender stereotypes. Managers do not differ in their essential attributes, capabilities and behaviours, and in both genders, we can find both excellent as well as average or poor performance (Mekač 2001). Nevertheless, the mentioned stereotypes work as an entry barrier for women in management (or in traditionally male professions in general) and their advancement on the hierarchical ladder in management. Research (Crampton and Mishra 1999) even suggest that social pressure is the biggest obstacle for women in management: due to entering a traditionally ‘male domain’, they also enter a whole new role in which they meet new stereotypical ideas (e. g. women are not able to cope with crisis situations, their training and professional development is meaningless as they will soon be leaving for the maternity leave, career women are losing their femininity by taking over masculine characteristics etc.).

Such and similar stereotypes are dangerous to both individuals and our society as a whole. They lead to reduce self-esteem in the situations in which people with certain characteristics are expected to not perform well or to lose interest in working in the field in the long-run. A society permeated with gender stereotypes allows a person to think that she does not possess real managerial competences, which leads to the individual’s subconscious internalization of such thinking, indirectly shaping her career path. In the long term such chronic exposure to a stereotype leads to the so-called ‘stereotype threat’: the individual will no longer perceive herself as a part of this group, e. g. will no longer see herself as a manager, which psychology ascribes as a result of the desire to maintain self-confidence in the face of failure. The mere existence of gender stereotypes and not addressing them appropriately can, therefore, lead to a loss of valuable potential if individuals are not given a specific opportunity based solely on their gender.

On the other hand, researchers Robert Rosenthal and Lenora Jacobson proved already in 1968 that the achievements of children, of whom their teachers expect more, are only improving. If we apply this to the managerial positions, we can conclude that men have much greater support from the society, which in turn also results in their easier entrance to the managerial waters and unhindered movement – and advancement – within them.

In the last decades the phenomenon of “women in management” became a trend which has slowly but surely also been increasing. Nevertheless, one of the more topical questions became whether women entering management truly have a different leadership style than men due to their unique characteristics (supposedly deriving from their gender). In the 1980s, it was widely acknowledged that successful managerial style is characterised by qualities traditionally associated with masculine characteristics. Some of these stereotyped characteristics are aggressiveness, competitiveness, individualism, authoritarianism, command and control tendency, negligence, risk-taking, exclusiveness in decision-making, even hard-line enforcement. In the 1990s however, it was said that ‘women’s style’, characterised by stereotypically feminine traits is a successful one. This applies to traits such as being democratic in decision-making, patient, cautious, precise, interactive, to collaborate with colleagues and help employees, to integrate a feeling of a family into the work environment. However, is it true that all women in leadership positions use the so-called female leadership style or all men use the so-called male leadership style?

Of course not. Research shows that women in leadership positions can have even more pronounced stereotypically masculine traits than men in leadership positions. It can, therefore, be concluded that individual characteristics can be called feminine or masculine, but this merely a stereotyped language. Both men are women possess personality traits from one pool as well as the other – we are basically talking about human traits, which, in line with certain societal expectations ascribed to a particular gender are generally (stereotypically) divided into two poles. Such awareness is especially important when we are talking about finding a successful way to lead. The most successful way in the last century has turned out to be the androgenic management style of leadership that combines both positive ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits. Managers are managing both female and male employees, so it is extremely important that they are able to also understand both perspectives and all intermediate greys, formed by individual blends of personality traits of employees.

Even before the beginning of the 21st century, a new leadership style emerged, one that was already set out in a more inclusive way, namely the transformative style of leadership. This style is categorised by leaders that are developing positive relationships with subordinates with a goal to improve the success of both individual employees as well as the organisation as a whole. They also stimulate employees intellectually and pay attention to their emotional needs. This leadership style is in itself much more inclusive since it focuses on all employees and their satisfaction at work, which means that the proportion of traditionally feminine or masculine characteristics of individuals (both in management or other functions) plays no role, it is irrelevant.

The needs of job seekers in the labour market today are again different, which makes it necessary to introduce new paradigms and premises into our management methods. Research by Sunnie Giles (2016) demonstrated that the employees in the 21st century want from their leaders the following in particular: high moral and ethical standards, promoting self-organisation (loose guidance), clear communication of expectations, flexibility to change set premises, cultivation of growth and employee professional development, as well as regular and open communication with employees. Peter Brandman’s approach, however, illustrates four basic characteristics sought in leaders today, namely: self-esteem, connection with others, dedication to the meaning of one’s work, emotional courage, which should all be closely interrelated and mutually interdependent, as the absence of one disrupts the balance and efficiency of the manager. Generations of Millennials and Generation Z are in particular included wishing from their superiors a strong interpersonal relationship and genuine interest for their personal and career development.

We can, therefore, observe that the key question is not who is a better leader – a man or a woman. The key question is the trend evolution that emerges with each new generation entering the job market – great managers should adapt and internalize their leadership style (regardless their gender) to those generations in order to achieve good results. It is also necessary to understand that each situation demands its own leadership style. Good managers must be adept at assessing a given organisation’s structure, current circumstances and the characteristics of the people they work with, and adapt their leadership styles accordingly.

[1] 24,6% of women in Slovenia are executive or non-executive directors and 17,7% of women are in the positions of board chairs or board members.


Millennials and Generation Z in the workforce and in the workplace

Laziness, narcissism, egocentrism, unmanageability and the feeling of entitlement are just some of the attributes ascribed to new generations entering the workplace today, the so-called Millennials and Generation Z. Although their age range is not well defined, the former term (Millennials) usually refers to people born between years 1981-2000, while Generation Z is represented by those born in the second half of the 1990s and the beginning of 2000s. Millennials currently represent the largest share of the working population, while Generation Z is also starting to take an active role in the labour market. For the employer it is essential to understand the core of their existential dilemma: this enables them to successfully recruit, and more importantly, effectively integrate the new generations into work processes, as well as retain younger generations in a particular workplace. In order to meet the needs of the latter in the labour market, having a deeper understanding of the modern hierarchy of their priorities is even more important.

Notwithstanding the many prejudices and stereotypes that emerge about new generations in the workplace, something holds true – the impact of the innumerable profound changes in our society (e.g. technological development) has been shaping younger generations in a different way than the Generation X before them. This has brought us to the point where we refer to them as ‘instant generations’: generations that want to reach for everything very quickly, which includes seeing the results of their work (promotions or financial awards).

A survey conducted by Deloitte in 2019 showed that Millennials are overall dissatisfied with the work they do – as many as 49% say they would want to change jobs within the next two years of their life. This figure is far greater than what we could find in the same survey conducted in 2017, in which 38% of the interviewees were similarly chronically dissatisfied. This undeniably poses a significant challenge for structures of businesses and organizations that want a reliable and stable workforce. The reasons behind new generations leaving their current jobs are primarily related to dissatisfaction with the payment and a lack of opportunities for promotion and professional development. High on the list are also the lack of diversity in the workplace and a lack of integration policies. Millennials were found to be largely (49%) distrustful of corporate business ethics (this figure turned out to be as high as 65% in 2017 survey). This has multidimensional effects for the generations in question since complementarity of business and their personal principles is also very high on their priority list. It comes as no surprise that freelancing work is attractive to as many as 84% ​​of millennials and 81% of Generation Z members.

So what can an employer do to attract the best millennial staff to their company or organization?

1. Impacting the society through the prism of social responsibility: Deloitte study also found that Millennials and Generation Z designed very high standards related to the positive effects that a business should have on society. As many as 80% of millennials say that they would be more dedicated and motivated to work in a company or organisation if they felt that their employer was seeking to make a positive impact on society. When applying for a job position, they strive for employment at a company whose value system is aligned with theirs. If a modern company wishes to thrive in its markets it is, therefore, important to realize that their best job candidates will pay attention to their outward image (reputation) that should reflect socially responsible practices at all levels. The survey also found that key values ​​for younger generations also contain caring about a healthy environment (addressing also climate change), and gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Organizational culture can, therefore, be a key contributor to the higher satisfaction of younger generations in the workplace, which needs to be constantly nurtured. Through socially responsible corporate policies, Millennials and Generation Z members grasp their most important work-related priority: to find meaning in their work.

2. Enable learning and developing professional competencies in the workplace: Millennials and Generation Z are looking for workplaces that they engage with fully, they learn quickly and present positive effects of their work already early on. Most often, they strive for positions through which they can influence the functioning of their company or organisations in at least some ways. They want to constantly improve their knowledge and competences; hence it is not difficult for them to engage with work also outside their prescribed workday.

3. Actively involve employees in work and decision-making processes: new generations want to be actively involved in work processes to a greater extent than the Generation X while taking responsibilities seriously and maintaining a strong relationship with their employer (or their immediate supervisor). Gallup’s research has shown that the latter is in 70% of cases crucial to how well a Millennial or a Generation Z member feels in the existing structure and processes. Consequently, they need to be managed by people who are not afraid of strong and ambitious young people and truly believe in their skills, abilities and potentials. Millennials are also eager to be involved in decision-making processes within a business or organization, believing that they can contribute their share to the already existing knowledge and experience. These generations are much more proactive than most Generation X members are, as well as not afraid to voice their opinions. They are not ashamed of failures either. When a Millennial feels that he/she is not contributing to the financial well-being of the company or organisation (either through innovation, new knowledge, concrete improvements etc.), this can lead to dissatisfaction with the latter and their impulsiveness of his/her engagement with the labour market. Fulfilling this aspect is particularly important when employing the members of Generation Z, whose top priority in the workplace is supportive leadership. Nearly a third of Generation Z members say that they are more motivated to work and do not find it difficult to stay in work late into the night if the management of the company or organization is supportive. As many as 37% also claim that they would not work for a person that does not act constructively or supportively. They need to feel “acquainted” in the workplace (47% value trust the most, while 40% support). This translates into a fact that (if they want greater employee effectiveness) their superiors should make a sincere effort to be acquainted with their employees, which includes inquiring about their career paths and wants.

3. The flexibility of working time and space: younger generations are constantly connected to and engaged with their work. This means that there is no need to be physically present in the office. A survey conducted by PwC found that millennials are most effective when they are provided with clear guidance and concrete goals by their superiors before commencing the task. It is better if the superior focus on the quality of the task and the accuracy of the achieved goals, rather than on where/where the task was performed. Last but not least, the quality of the work done is what really counts for employers – even though someone might do it on the other half of the Earth in their pyjamas.

However, companies and organisations also face the challenge of retaining outstanding employees, not only hiring them. Deloitte research outlines that both diversity in the workplace, as well as opportunities for ongoing training and corporate learning,  influence the retention of good employees. For long-term business engagement with new generations, it is also crucial to know and understand the concept of reverse loyalty. More individualised young workers today do not perceive loyalty to a particular company or organization as positively and nobly representatives of generation X did. Loyalty at any cost for them is overvalued, youth is much more aware of their value in the labour market and they are not afraid to navigate between different employers. The concept of reverse loyalty, therefore, comes into place when younger generations expect a loyal relationship from their superiors instead (supportive activities, personal engagement at the individual level, corporate learning, etc.). They do not want to exist in a company as a mere ‘number’, because their work (under the condition that it is self-fulfilling), no longer represents only a necessity to them. Work has with younger generations and new technologies transitioned from being a virtue to being an actual lifestyle.

Why cannot a challenge be an opportunity at the same time? By properly understanding the mind-sets of Millennials and Generation Z members, an employer can enrich his or her organizational structure, culture and work processes in a manner that promotes their creativity, innovativeness and personal development. In doing so, the employers secure indispensable individuals; the ones, who do not mind long hours and are prepared to put in great effort to work for a company or organisation, which has a clearly defined purpose, as well as offers possibilities of promotion and advancement.

GEMA certification ensures that your company or organisation reaches and attracts the young and the talented in a greater way. Being one of GEMA certificate holders engages with the youth through showing that your company or organisation strives for social responsibility in the field of gender equality in its employment processes and at the workplace itself. The mentoring system will also allow them to quickly develop old and acquire new skills, while a regulated wage gap will show your commitment to the de-facto equality of your employees and promotion of diversity in the workplace.

Mentioned 2019 Deloitte survey is available at: Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/deloitte-2019-millennial-survey.pdf


Gender bias in hiring, promoting, and rewarding employees

Gender bias are actions that stem from our own pre-designed ideas about a social role that a particular gender should take. In this expert piece we will focus mainly on bias that has a proven impact on the recruitment, promotion and reward processes in companies or organisations. Scientific research[1] has shown that gender bias is one of the biases embedded in organizational and decision-making processes. It is a result of our brain developing cognitive shortcuts to effectively navigate the complex reality we live in. Gender bias is outside of our control and reflects patters we acquire through society and culture we are immersed into – thus reflecting the very state of this society. This is a normal phenomenon, which, however, can have undesirable consequences especially for individuals in specific life situations.

The origin of gender bias in an individual can be found in our childhood. Children are constantly observing the world, observing the people and differences among them, and judging by what they see and hear about those differences. Until their first birthday most babies can distinguish between male and female faces, but adults are the ones who tell them what role should a certain gender undertake. Children learn that their gender is important because we are constantly emphasizing it in ordinary conversations.

When children become aware of the importance of gender in the adult world, they begin to draw black-white conclusions about its meaning – they formulate simplistic and rigid rules about what being a man or woman represents. These simplified rules are stereotypes. They are a cognitive shortcut; our brains are built for quick decisions. Based on these examples children look upon the world of adults around them and may decide that women care for them when they get ill, as they are more compassionate and nurturing. Men go bravely into battle, take action and allow themselves to be loud or angry. These traits are well described by the concept of masculinity / agency and femininity / communality. Agency is a characteristic of the male gender stereotype and reflects the fundamental orientation of a male individual towards himself, while communality is a characteristic of the female gender stereotype and reflects the fundamental orientation of the female individual towards others.[2]

Based on what they perceive in the environment, children decide that there are many essential and innate differences between men and women. They start to build up stereotypical ideas about the ‘nature’ of each gender, which they also subjugate and adapt to – partly because they are rewarded for such behavior. Research shows that parents (especially fathers) prioritize offering their children gender-appropriate toys (such as a girl’s cooking kit and a boy’s tool kit), and in turn discourage them from stereotypically inappropriate toys. Further, research shows that parents are more tolerant when a son is physically abusive to peers and siblings than when a girl does the same thing. Even peers among children are punishing each other, sometimes cruelly, when someone violates  gender rules and are often excluded on the basis of gender. One study looked at preschool boys while playing and found that when boys showed interest in stereotypically girl toys, such as cooking games, doll houses, dress up games, other boys interrupted them by mockery and sometimes, violence. As children continue to engage in such a behavior, this behaviour becomes routine and part of their (gender) identity.

As children get older (age 8 to 10) they develop cognitive skills and many begin to realize that gender norms are largely based on social rules (so-called social conventions). But about this same time, children also begin to develop the concept of morality in their thinking: what is right and what is wrong. Stereotypes attain a moral note, e. g. a child would think that girls are expected to be restrained and shy and boys to be determined simply because “this is correct,” says Campbell Leaper, a psychologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz. And here lies the main problem: once stereotypes become embedded in their subconscious, it is easier to conclude that men currently have higher social status and higher social positions due to ‘biological’ or ‘natural’ reasons. And they continue to believe that as adults: e.g. parents repeatedly rate their sons as more intelligent than their daughters.

The problem arises when stereotypes gain more meaning than they should have: they are an impulse, influenced by simplistic images we have received and built up in our childhoods by observing the existing state of the world around us which is fundamentally resting on current power relationships (not just among genders, but also the rich and the poor, races, nationalities). This is called bias – basing our actions upon believing that a gender stereotype is true and natural. Gender bias is therefore very often unconscious and unintentional, but it still influences staffing and management decisions and, as a result, must be appropriately constrained for our businesses to function successfully – unconscious gender bias has proven to be particularly problematic in the world of education and work. The greater the perceived discrepancy between the person’s gender characteristics and the job requirements within the workplace, the more biased is the assessment in the process of recruitment, selection, assessment and promotion of our employees.

A groundbreaking study conducted at Yale found that evaluators for leadership positions were more likely to hire John than Jennifer, despite having an identical resume. 127 scientists unknowingly participated in the study in which they received a request for evaluation of a candidate for the position of lab manager in several different disciplines. Their evaluation was supposed to be based on the candidate’s “ability”, with the goal to assess the starting salary that the candidate could expect. Both men and women’ evaluation favoured male candidate, which was on average offered a higher starting salary: Jennifer was offered an annual salary of $26,507, on the other hand, John would receive an initial annual salary of $30,238. The same study also showed that our gender does not affect our bias – both (male) assessors and (female) assessors assessed John’s curriculum vitae higher, despite being identical to Jennifer’s. The evaluators did not use gender-based reasons for different assessments, always basing their judgment on the excuse that Jennifer was simply not competent enough.[3]

Research conducted elsewhere shows similar results. Management positions are stereotypically perceived to require more aggressive achievement-orientation and emotional firmness – traits typically attributed to men, which is a barrier for women. Looking at the level of staffing this is reflected in the recruitment and selection process – women are less likely to be employed directly by men than men (Elsesser and Lever, 2011) because, in the absence of additional information about the individual, reliance on stereotypes becomes greater.[4] Furthermore, by reviewing the documentation of performance evaluation and promotion of women and men in managerial positions, women had to achieve significantly higher performance appraisals than men to achieve promotion. Women’s performance assessments have also been more closely linked to their advancement, indicating not only higher but also more rigorous promotion standards for women.[5] Similar pattern is also observed in rewarding processes. Emilio Castilla and Stephen Bernard, scientists at MIT and Indiana University, conducted a study that evaluated receiving financial awards for performance in organizations. Participants in the experiment were presented with a fake company, ServiceOne. Through the experiment the participants had to evaluate employees on the principle of a higher bonus based on greater merit for the success of the company in the current financial period. Test participants to the experiment awarded an average of $50 higher financial bonus to male participants.

The main issue surrounding unconscious gender bias is hidden in its name: employers are not aware of it, which awards them with a sense of meritocracy, hence prevents them from paying attention to biases in their selection processes. Paradoxically non-awareness leads to inequality. Understanding the implications of gender bias, along with educating employees about the importance of diversity, can reduce the magnitude of unfair recruitment, promotion and reward practices in businesses. In doing so, GEMA certificate contributes to introducing into business or organisation’s culture those processes that raise awareness of gender bias among employees. At the same time, it deepens already existing processes that contribute to carefully managed work environment, corporate culture and appropriate training of employees, especially those in charge of recruiting, promoting and rewarding other employees in the company. As McKinsay reported in 2015, eliminating gender bias leads to 15-30% higher likehood for financial returns above the national average. Gender equality in the workplace is also linked to improved productivity, greater organizational performance, increased company’s ability to attract talent and retain employees. Last but not least, it leads to enhanced business or organization’s reputation.

[1] Alison Wood Brooks, Laura Huang, Sarah Wood Kearney, Fiona E. Murray. 2014. Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (12) 4427-4431.

[2] Svetek, Mojca. 2019. Spolni stereotipi in diskriminacija žensk na trgu dela: psihološki pogled. Psihološka obzorja 28, 1-10.

[3] Corinne A. Moss-Racusina, John F. Dovidiob, Victoria L. Brescollc, Mark J. Grahama and Jo Handelsmana. 2012. Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (41) 16474-16479. Available at:

[4] Svetek, Mojca. 2019. Spolni stereotipi in diskriminacija žensk na trgu dela: psihološki pogled. Psihološka obzorja 28, 1-10.

[5] Ibid.