Top 10 Strategies to Engage Men in Gender Equality in the Workforce
16 June 2017 at 3:35 pm
Men have much to gain from equality in the workforce and there are ways to effectively engage men in the push for more equitable workplaces, a new report has found.
The Men Make a Difference: Engaging Men on Gender Equality report, released on Thursday, outlined 10 principles for organisations to adopt to effectively engage men on gender equality.
The Diversity Council Australia report, sponsored by Programmed and researched by two of Australia’s leading researchers in diversity and inclusion, Dr Graeme Russell and Dr Michael Flood, aimed to explore ways to effectively engage men on gender equality.
Dr Michael Flood told Pro Bono News there were three big takeaways from the report.
“One is that men have a vital role to play in building gender equality at work. Two, that men will gain from gender equality at work and in their own lives and the wider community. And thirdly, there are effective ways to bring men into gender equality initiatives at work,” Flood said.
“Much of the report is a how to; how to engage men in gender equality [in ways] that aren’t tokenistic and then more broadly how to make organisational change.”
Flood said one of the key findings was that men’s understandings of gender were often poorer than women, and while most men were supportive of equality many did not see gender equality as an issue of personal relevance to them.
“Part of this work is appealing to men’s care for the women and girls in their own lives and appealing to men’s ethics or morals to make the case that it is only fair [and] that supporting gender equality is the right thing to do,” he said.
Flood said the report called for certain workplace policies and cultures to be restructured.
“We all have to tackle the structures and the processes and the cultures of workplaces,” Flood said.
“It is very clear from the research that gender inequality is imbedded in workplaces. Not only in obvious things like pay and power but in more subtle things like gender stereotypes in selection committees or gender assumptions about success. Or another example is how workplaces might be inflexible and penalise care for children.”
The report outlined 10 strategies to engage men on gender equality:
- Get the foundation right – ensure gender equality initiatives involve women and men as active and equal partners.
- Get the framing right – treat gender equality as a business issue, not a women’s issue.
- Go wide – make visible and target all key gender equality areas (ie paid work, power and decision making, financial security, personal safety, interpersonal work relationships, caring, and community involvement).
- Get the messaging right – to appeal to men as well as women.
- Engage a diversity of men – including men in different organisational roles and levels, and with a variety of demographic backgrounds (eg ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations).
- Educate about how to lead change effectively – by resourcing initiatives, being visible and persistent, and “walking the talk”.
- Make the connection between work and home – by implementing initiatives that encourage gender equality in caregiving.
- Make the connection between work and communities – by framing gender inequality as a societal or community problem.
- Build individuals’ gender confidence and capability – by providing opportunities for both men and women to change their mindsets, assumptions, and behaviours.
- Encourage men and women to challenge and change gender-biased organisational policies and practices
The report also found that men had much to gain in gender equality.
“Men’s wellbeing improves when the constraints of narrow notions of masculinity are relaxed. Men also benefit from active involvement as fathers in their children’s lives,” the report said.
“With progress towards gender equality in workplaces, men will enjoy workplaces with greater productivity, creativity, and diversity because of the wider pools of talent and fairer processes on which they are based.”
DCA CEO Lisa Annese said men could play a crucial role in addressing gender inequality.
“Despite gains in recent years, gender inequality at work is still a major issue – you only have to look at the gender pay gap, the high incidence of pregnancy discrimination and the lack of women in positions of leaderships to see that,” Annese said.
“While engaging men is not a ‘magic bullet’, men are part of the problem of inequality so they need to be part of the solution. We have to find more effective ways to encourage men to work in partnership with women to create the necessary change. Importantly, men need to understand they will benefit from equality as well as women.”
The report synopsis is available here.