There is no magic bullet to solving gender inequality at work. But what role should men play? Are they innocent beneficiaries of unjust systems that just happen to be designed around masculine models of work and behaviour? Or do men really want to be part of a level playing field? And if so, what are they prepared to forfeit along the way? After all, power shifts inevitably mean someone has to lose – something.
A new report released this week by the Diversity Council Australia provides significant insight into the state of play. The problem, as the authors note, is not just structural, built into the way the workplace operates. Both men and women carry out gender inequalities in their everyday lives, and sometimes even the most well-intentioned people inadvertently practice everyday forms of sexism.
We know that men benefit from the current system, and have many unfair advantages in the workplace. However, men are not just part of the problem – they are also part of the solution. As such, it is crucial that men are as engaged as women in working to progress gender equality. The report provides practical advice for how to do this, and outlines ten most effective ways for engaging men (1):
1. Get the foundation right – ensure gender equality initiatives involve women and men as active and equal partners.
2. Get the framing right – treat gender equality as a business issue, not a women’s issue.
3. Go wide – make visible and target all key gender equality areas (i.e. paid work, power and decision making, financial security, personal safety, interpersonal work relationships, caring, and community involvement).
4. Get the messaging right – to appeal to men as well as women.
5. Engage a diversity of men – including men in different organisational roles and levels, and with a variety of demographic backgrounds (e.g. ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations).
6. Educate about how to lead change effectively – by resourcing initiatives, being visible and persistent, and ‘walking the talk’.
7. Make the connection between work and home – by implementing initiatives that encourage gender equality in caregiving.
8. Make the connection between work and communities – by framing gender inequality as a societal/community problem.
9. Build individuals’ gender confidence and capability – by providing opportunities for both men and women to change their mindsets, assumptions, and behaviours.
10. Encourage men and women to challenge and change gender-biased organisational policies and practices.
Read the Report here… (1) https://www.dca.org.au/research/project/engaging-men-gender-equality