Manscripts – why we need inclusive mentoring
We need inclusive mentoring in the workplace
The workplace can be very different for women than their male peers. How behaviour men see as normal is in fact non-inclusive
The #MeToo and #Timesup movements sparked a notable shift in the publicity given to the way women experience the workplace. While there was an outpouring of support in the early days, the focus has now moved. It didn't take long for men to become concerned about the downsides for them, especially if they volunteer to mentor women. They are worried about gossip, difficult situations and even unjustified accusations. What it has also highlighted is a genuine lack of understanding on how women share the same work space but have a different experience of it. This requires a grasp of the "manscripts" that dominate our corporate cultures, which shape all interactions, not just mentoring. Training programmes for male mentors need to have an inclusive mentoring element before men can properly mentor women. Many really don't understand that the workplace can be very different for women than their male peers and how behaviour they see as "normal" is in fact non-inclusive.
Different entry points and perspectives
I very often hear that men and women enter the workplace as equals and then somewhere during their careers something changes for women. This is not always necessarily the case although it is true that women encounter other challenges to their male peers. However, they can have a very different starting point to men. Women are generally raised to be prudent and defensive. Girls as young as eight, experience inappropriate sexual conduct. See our infographic on the strategies that men and women employ to avoid inappropriate sexual conduct. You can see that men have one.
Perception is everything
Regardless of geography, all research suggests that around 85% of women experience sexism both in the workplace and outside it. Research from Ipsos Mori/European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights/Stop Street Harassment suggests that both men and women underestimate the level of sexual harassment women experience. For the sake of balance, it should also be noted that the number of men reporting inappropriate sexual conduct is also on the increase and comes from both other men, as well as women.
Perception also plays a key part. When you are part of the "in-group," the gender lens has a rosy hue. A study from Lean In found that 55% men believe their organisations are taking sufficient action to address disrespectful behaviour toward women quickly. Only 44% of women believe the same thing. A CEO told me he had a gender balanced board. There was only one woman on it. In training session I facilitated, of 53 senior leaders in a major consulting firm, the men claimed that the organisation had achieved gender parity. There were 8 women in the room. During a workshop which gave participants the opportunity to give anonymous feedback, leaders were surprised and dismayed to see the degree and reasons for discontent amongst the female employees. This came from an employee level where churn for women employees was high and the management struggled with retention. They have now set up focus groups to address the issues.
Walk in your shoes - inclusive mentoring
Mentoring is about a senior person sharing their experiences of their career to guide and advise the mentee through critical career issues. It’s comes from having an understanding of what is going on for them, because they have been through the same process. The phrase "walking in their shoes" is one I hear frequently. But have they?
This is something that is not easy for men to fully understand especially when viewed through the eyes of those in the in-group. It’s can be difficult for them to empathise with the challenges female mentees face. It can be especially bemusing if they feel that any issues are already being dealt with. Bill Proudman captured this at the JUMP Forum in Brussels last week. Bill is CEO and Founder of White Men as Full Diversity Partners. He talks about the power and impact of being in the ”in-group” and contributing to the dominant culture often times without even realising it.
A mentor could be just what you need to take your career to the next level. Find out more about our Mentoring Services HERE.
Men frequently relate their own relationships with women as wives, partners, daughters, mothers or siblings to the situations of their colleagues and direct reports. This is their frame of reference and their “manscript”. They struggle to connect their personal experience of the workplace to what is happening elsewhere, particularly the two situations are not aligned. This is in the face of extensive research that illustrates otherwise. At times they have a hard time accepting even reputable research projects which might give another perspective, even though the research sample can be many thousands. I am quite often asked for resource lists after training sessions, not because participants want to read more on a topic, but because they doubt my word! This is an experience echoed by many women. Gender first, professional credentials second, is something women encounter frequently.
Bill Proudman told 3Plus in 2017 how he dealt with “diversity hostages” which is what he calls men who have a hard time accepting diversity and inclusion issues.
“it’s not my place to tell you what you believe. It’s my place in a corporate setting to help you understand the impact of your behaviour, and if you’re in leadership role you’re going to have to change your behaviour. You don’t need to change your beliefs, you may choose to do that in time on your own, but that’s not mine or anybody’s place to do that”.
Changing personal behaviour
By the time women enter the workplace they are already very aware of their position in the power structure, and many don’t know how to navigate the barriers which are very often invisible. When working with male leaders in organizations, the ideas that are frequently the most difficult for them to look at, and even identify, are the "in-group" behaviours and they are part of it. These are typically the range of male coded behaviours that appear completely normal to them, which can be non-inclusive and even sexist. This includes speaking over people, interrupting, challenging aggressively, binary thinking, deferring to another man over a woman and over powering non-verbal communication.
The mantra of “think male think leader” is at the core of in-group male privilege. And while this cultivates a group of people who are very alike, it also leads to “group think,” which encourages the dominant culture to prevail. This places a high value on masculine behaviour traits and values which women are encouraged to adopt. However, when women do exactly that, they experience a backlash. In basic terms, male dominance in leadership perpetuates more male leaders.
Download this eBook to learn tips and tricks to make the most of mentoring whether as a Mentee, a Mentor or an organisational representative.
Leaning in, is out
In three different events this month I have been asked what men can to do to increase the confidence of their mentees and female reports. But women are now so “leaned- in” they are almost horizontal. What these men don’t ask is what they can change to make their own cultures more inclusive so that women will feel comfortable and confident speaking up. This includes examining their own " normal" behaviour. To get to this point they must have a better understanding of the female experience of corporate culture.
3Plus International can offer your company a range of mentoring solutions to ensure women in your company succeed at every step of their careers.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
September 17th Latham Watkins Brussels 1200
In-house corporate event
Inclusive Leadership Workshop
September 20th EIGE Vilnius 0900
How to combat sexism in the workplace
Peer review of EU booklet authored by Dorothy Dalton
September 30th BD Foundation Webinar with Dorothy Dalton (online)
Topic: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
October 3rd JUMP Hub Brussels
Gender equality: how to build an attractive employer brand without falling into the trap of “gender washing”
Infrabel, rue de France, 9, 1070 Brusells
Open registration : http://jump.eu.com/hub-sessions/gender-equality-build-attractive-employer-brand-without-falling-trap-gender-washing/
October 15th NEHRA Event at AXA Brussels
Best Diversity and Inclusion Practices
October 22nd and 23rd Unleash Conference Paris
Open registration: https://unleashgroup.io
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Conscious inclusion means not just creating initiatives, but creating a culture where people can speak out and raise awareness of unacceptable behaviour.read more
Most of us have been on a road-trip at some point, but you may be surprised to learn what leadership skills the road can teach you.read more
The male-coded workplace is defined by several characteristics that discourage female participation, and career fear is at the heart of it.read more