What men would do to fix the workplace equality gap
It is still true that far more men than women have leading roles in many organisations.
Many readers will be familiar with the kinds of experiences that frustrate women’s career progress; things like being interrupted or talked over in meetings. But that is old news. Less well known are more subtle trends such as the tendency of men to be promoted on their potential to take on a new role, while women need experience of the role to get the job. This is often called “ability bias” and often happens simply because men’s networks are stronger. Men tend to gravitate to other men in the informal chats that happen in corridors, coffee shops and after five-a-side football games.
These conversations are where connections are made that open the door to opportunities. Men can also kill careers with misplaced “kindness”. In their concern not to upset a woman, men often give less direct and less useful feedback than they do to men. Over time, the consequence of these behaviours for women is that they feel they do not fit in, that they are not being promoted on merit and, as a result, ambition and confidence can melt away.
Men: the missing ingredient
Lack of gender parity is influenced just as much by what men are doing as what women are doing. And yet male voices have been quiet, or not listened to, while initiatives focus on things like mentoring female employees to be more assertive – in effect “fixing the women” to fit in with how things are done.
The better news for women is that many men support gender parity at the top of organisations. The business case is well accepted and, for men in early or mid career in particular, gender parity is a moral issue too. Men tell us that it’s not right that their daughters, female partners and friends should have a different experience of the workplace from the men they work alongside.
So its surprising that very little research has been done to find out what men think of the problems with workplace culture that women report, or to discover what men think can be done about it. This is why Murray Edwards College started the Collaborating with Men research project, working with 40 men in early career, middle management and senior leadership roles in both small businesses and large organisations – and in both the public and private sector.
If individuals are not prepared to change something themselves, then no amount of company policy is going to make a tangible difference. However, given that most men haven’t done much thinking about how their behaviour may negatively affect women’s careers, it follows that it’s not obvious what they can do to help. So the first thing we did was to share a summary of the research from women’s perspective. Many of the participants then discussed this research with their female colleagues. The effect was to make unconscious behaviours visible and to prompt many men to suggest practical changes which could help redress the balance. Let’s pick out some highlights here:
Solutions to improve workplace culture
Just talk – A first step would bring teams together in a facilitated, neutral meeting where evidence on workplace culture can be aired and women can describe issues they think they experience because of their gender. Teams can then discuss solutions with the help of the ideas that came from this research.
Making visible how things get done in practice – Power audits are needed by mixed gender teams after a project is finished to make visible how and where decisions were made. This will improve how gender diverse teams work together.
Building close relationships – A key insight from the research stresses the importance of extending mixed gender networks to make it more likely that a woman comes to mind when an opportunity arises. This might include networking with a social agenda: you might have “Walkabout Wednesdays” when everyone is expected to have coffee with someone new. Networking can also happen as a by-product of something useful: for example, “Take Two” buddy ups when you need cover for two hours while you do something outside work. Or it can be directly related to work, perhaps mixed-gender mentoring to share skills and perspectives on a project.
Bystanders amplify – Not having their comments and ideas heard in meetings is one of women’s biggest complaints. Men can help by amplifying a woman’s contribution when they notice it has not been heard; repeating their colleague’s idea and giving her credit.
Actions from leaders - Individual actions need to be authorised by leaders taking a clear stance. Male role models are needed to transform workplace culture – yet the men who take on this role often face backlash. Leaders can help by rewarding and supporting men who make changes to support gender parity.
Men and women in early career and middle management have a lot to get done. The best solutions will adapt easily into the normal working day. Many of these ideas may seem like small things but, by increments, we think that these small changes could make a big difference to how women feel about work, their access to sponsorship that comes with stronger networks and progress into leadership positions.
Individual action from men to improve workplace culture will work in tandem with other initiatives such as training to recognise unconscious bias, designing systems to remove gender bias from hiring and promotion and introducing flexible working policies that all aim to close the gender equality gap.
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a set of 17 directives to be completed by a 2030 deadline, with the aim of significantly improving quality of life for all people on Earth.
- Pfizer's commitment to the UN's SDG #3, Good Health and Well-being, is exemplified by its mission to improve global health through a combination of local and global programs catalyzed by innovative health leaders.
- In 1998, Pfizer embarked on a 22-year mission to eradicate trachoma by 2020.Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that can cause irreversible blindness or vision impairment. So far, it has been eradicated in six countries.
- Pfizer is a committed partner in improving global health, helping to provide a number of critical cancer medications to six African countries where an estimated 44 percent of all cancer cases in sub-Saharan Africa occur each year
The lawsuit could someday reach the Supreme Court and change the way the nation's universities approach college admissions practices.
- The lawsuit claims Harvard University discriminates against Asian American students, who currently constitute 22.9 percent of the freshman class.
- Harvard denies the allegations, arguing that its admissions practices don't discriminate against anyone.
- The plaintiffs are backed by the Trump administration. Harvard is backed by multiple student organizations, including the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Association.
His book warns us of the dangers of mass media, passivity, and how even an intelligent population can be driven to gladly choose dictatorship over freedom.
- This 1931 novel predicted modern life almost to a (model) T.
- While other dystopias get more press, Brave New World offers us a nightmare world that we've moved steadily towards over the last century.
- Author Aldous Huxley's ideas on a light handed totalitarian dictatorship stand in marked contrast to the popular image of a dictatorship that relies on force.
A new study finds that simply growing up in a home with enough books increases adult literacy and math prowess.
- A child growing up in a home with at least 80 books will have greater literacy and numeracy in adulthood.
- A home library can promote reading and math skills more than college alone can.
- Growing up in a pro-learning home leads to a lifetime of knowledge-seeking.
Achieving good health and well-being around the world is critical to the company's mission
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
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- Fake news, real risk, and the messy rise of blockchain media.
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- Doctors in Shetland can now prescribe a walk in nature
- It's believed to be the first program of its kind in the U.K.
- The health benefits of engaging with nature are numerous.
Since October 5, doctors in Shetland, Scotland have been authorized to prescribe nature to their patients. It's thought to be the first program of its kind in the U.K., and seeks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental illness, stress, heart disease, and more.
There is a whole leaflet of nature prescription suggestions that accompanies the program, filled with amusing, charming, sometimes seemingly off-kilter suggestions: in February, you can make a windsock from a hoop and material to "appreciate the speed of the wind"; in March, you can make beach art from natural materials or "borrow a dog and take it for a walk"; in April, you can "touch the sea" and "make a bug hotel"; in May, you can "bury your face in the grass"; in July, you can "pick two different kinds of grass and really look at them"; in August, you can summon a worm out of the ground without digging or using water; in September, you can help clean the beach and prepare a meal outdoors; in October, you can "appreciate a cloud"; you can "talk to a pony" in November, "feed the birds in your garden" in December, and do so much more. All on doctor's orders.
The evidence for the benefits of nature on mental and physical health are numerous. If you spend 90 minutes of your day outside in a wooded area, there will be a decrease of activity in the part of your brain typically associated with depression. Spending time in nature not only reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and increases happiness, but it reduces aggression, ADHD symptoms, improves pain control, the immune system, and—per a summary of research regarding the health benefits of nature—there's much more we don't know and are figuring out every day.
In Landmarks, the writer Robert Macfarlane bemoaned the disconnect between the landscape and the words used to describe and engage with that landscape, as well as all that disconnect implied. The book attempted to serve as something of a catch-all for words Macfarlane worried were being lost. There are Shetlandic words in the book, including grumma (mirage caused by mist or haze rising from the ground), flaa (hunk of turf, matted with roots of heather and grass, torn up by hand without a spade and used in thatching), skumpi (clumsy, lumpish peat; outermost peat in each row as the peats are cut out of the bank), dub (very deep bog or mire), yarf (swamp), iset (color of ice: isetgrey, isetblue), and others.
One could imagine that someone encouraged to spend more time in nature by their doctor won't just feel better—they might think about tearing a flaa out of some skumpi before turning around and heading back home. They'll spot some isetgrey ice. And, as they reconnect with nature, they will reconnect with the language of nature, a language that is frequently site-specific and carries with it a quiet institutional memory of its own, a memory worth recalling as the world faces development, urbanization, and climate change.
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