Why men should support gender equality
It seems obvious, but many are still resistant. Here are 5 compelling WIFM reasons why men should support gender equality.
You would have thought that men would care about gender equality at home, socially and in the workplace. Many say they do, but all research shows that there is one demographic which is a sticking point. That is the 34- 48-year-old Middle Manager. There are a number of reasons for this and it just isn’t about the economic business case of having a highly paid partner or being part of a more successful business. Many fear they will lose out.
Michael Kimmel, Author and Sociologist says:
“Contrary to what many people argue, gender equality is not a zero-sum game in which women win only at the expense of men losing. Gender equality is a win-win. When women win, so too will men.”
It is possibly because the WIFM (What’s In It For Me) benefits aren’t clear. So let’s spell them out.
5 Reasons men should support gender equality
1. Liberation from the oppression of the Male-Code
When men openly embrace gender balance they will experience reduced pressure from not being required to “man-up” at every available opportunity. They can opt out of the competitive, unspoken, male code in which boys are raised and then go on to experience in the workplace and wider cultures as adults. Jeffrey Tobias Halter, CEO of YWomen describes this culture in The Man Code. It’s Real, And It’s Pervasive.
“These male norms, considered a badge of honor in sales, operations, and supply chain, are just a few of the factors that can unintentionally damage your workplace culture….”
This involves feeling compelled to be competitive, lead, not show emotions, be compassionate, appear vulnerable with a need to “tough” things out. Not all men are alpha males and these are the cultural characteristics of many of our organisations. Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn recently said in his stream:
“Big misconception about managing compassionately is that it’s a “soft” skill. Most compassionate people I know are typically the strongest.”
Compassion is not a female coded soft skill. It is a strong leadership characteristic.
2. Increased professional satisfaction
Being part of a team composed of non-homogenous talent with innovative thinking and diversity of thought is fun. It is dynamic and interesting, not just good for business. As organisations shift to accommodate demands for flexible working conditions from both men and women, workplaces will become more collaborative and inclusive. As a result everyone will benefit.
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3. Improved psychological and physical well-being
Gender equality is part of a move for wider social change that will leave a beneficial legacy to future generations. It will enhance emotional well-being, leading to lower stress levels and benefiting from higher participation in life outside the workplace. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
2008 Harvard Business School survey of a thousand professionals found that 94% per cent worked 50 hours or more a week, and almost half worked in excess of 65 hours a week. Attributed to the Boomer work ethics characterizing workplace culture, with their work centric focus on hierarchy, power and prestige, successful people now work longer hours than ever. But this doesn’t explain similar overwork cultures found in Silicon Valley populated by younger men.
4. Better personal relationships
Personal relationships and partnerships based on gender equality leads to improved economic security and overall social well-being. The opportunity to have a greater role in parenting or elder care accentuates personal growth and development, allowing men to acquire a wider range of skills and tapping into different aspects of a personality. Men who share household chores have better sex lives.
5. Social catalysts
Men who step up at this point will be active social catalysts and will be part of a movement that pushes to pull down stereotypes which block us all. Many men want better futures for their daughters and greater involvement in a wider community. They don’t want to be trapped by the present culture of a modern office. Currently they are unsure how to move on from this, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
Kathleen Gerson notes in her book The Unfinished Revolution:
Most women no longer assume they can or will want to stay at home with young children, but there is no clear model of how children should be raised. Most men no longer assume they can or will want to support a family on their own, but there is no clear path to manhood.
Men clearly have to be part of these conversations so they too can have more fulfilling lives .
If you think that your workplace needs to address gender equality, take part in our workshops for Managing Unconscious Bias