The challenge today is that gender equality is a well-used phrase by business, but not necessarily well understood. Interrogating the attitudes and work place behaviours that drive equality is still an uncommon initiative.
Why? because it’s not front of mind, businesses don’t know what to look at, or look for, and it often means challenging the status quo and the habits that are so well entrenched – they are invisible – even to the CEO.
Men have to play a bigger and more active part in creating gender equality for women and for themselves. Women shouldn’t be left to tackle the issue alone. But currently, the majority of the vocal argument is coming from women and aimed at other women.
Initiatives worth checking out which we found where the focus is on men:-
Men are a big part
- They are direct beneficiaries of gender equality (but many don’t know it)
- They are enablers to achieving gender equality (but many don’t know it)
Men as beneficiaries
They personally benefit
Men have an opportunity to achieve a better work/life balance. To be happier and less stressed. To have a more active role in bringing up children and caring for family members and for that to not be seen as too high a sacrifice, but to actually enhance their career and enrich their input to business. To benefit from the equality created. Take a look at Michael Kimmel’s TED talk who presents an enlightened perspective for men, delivered in an engaging style that is bound to make you laugh – https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_kimmel_why_gender_equality_is_good_for_everyone_men_included
Their company benefits
Diversity of input into decision making is good for business. It is better for business. It is evidenced that companies who have a greater proportion of women on the board do better than those who do not.
Their children benefit
It takes effort to break engrained habits and create new ones. But when you are born into those recently acquired habits, you don’t even know to question it. So men have the opportunity to create a fairer and happier society for their children and grandchildren to be born into and benefit from.
Men as enablers (or barriers)
Men can be enablers to gender equality for a number of interconnected reasons.
- They are still the decision makers
Men are currently in a much greater proportion of decision making roles in business. They are influencers and stakeholders. They are catalysts for the change needed, co-creators of initiatives, but don’t have all the facts or the necessarily beliefs to create the impact.
- They are frightened of speaking out and acting out
Men who understand that the bias exists, are still frightened of talking about it.
- They are frightened of women criticising their well-intentioned comments and perspective.
- They are even more frightened of what other men think of them challenging masculine norms
- They are frightened of their company/boss thinking they aren’t taking their career seriously enough and will be passed over.
- Men don’t recognise the bias – Both apathy and perceived/real ignorance
Many don’t recognise gender bias exists and until they understand it – they can’t do anything about it. The good news is that evidence suggests men who are aware of gender bias, are much more likely to be advocates for change.
Excellent resources to explore the topic can be found at Catalyst.org http://www.catalyst.org/men-and-equality
Which leads me to the campaign #walkthetalk. Kick off you shoes and tweet your feet because it’s not about the shoes you wear, but what you stand for.
The reason behind the campaign is simple. http://www.walkthetalk.info/why-walk-the-talk/
- Men must also champion gender equality in order for the country to achieve it – proactively and positively – challenging the status quo. The campaign reached out to men who wanted to speak out and needed a prop/mechanic to get behind.
- Men respond to men – we feel we can reach more men, by encouraging other men to be vocal and take part in the conversation. This campaign encouraged male champions to stand up for gender equality – and be seen by other men doing it.
#walkthetalk is the start. A combination of 500+tweets and RTs with feet and messages and hundreds of likes. 30 business twitter handles talking about the campaign. 153 followers and counting – who’s reach via their followers is close to 1.2million.
Check out the campaign website – http://www.walkthetalk.info/
Greengrass – who we are and what is our perspective?
Our company focuses on driving high performance business cultures. We believe that a strong culture drives the bottom line in business and can provide competitive advantage.
We measure the strength of a company culture through a survey methodology . Extensive research has gone into the diagnostic tool and there is a proven link between the strength of culture and bottom line performance. http://greengrassconsulting.com/organisational-culture-survey/
Digging deeper into culture – Gender equality question module
In recent months we have developed a set of gender equality questions to measure the perceptions in the workplace http://greengrassconsulting.com/culture-topic-gender-equality/.
Gender equality is a cultural challenge for business, and in order to tackle it effectively, we believe you have to know where you stand as a company, both in terms of the ways of workings and policies you deploy, but also how gender equality is perceived by the men and women who work there. And it’s by developing insights from that combination of sources that you can develop a plan.
Founding Partner, Greengrass Consulting
+44 7879 412 541