Why We Need Men To Help Attain Gender Equality In The Workplace

I wanted to highlight an articulate response I got from a tweet I sent out on men’s place in attaining gender equality in the workplace. My friend, Adam Quinton, formerly of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in New York, responded with an enthusiasm for the subject I found reassuring. In some way, his comments remind me of how some of the staunchest supporters of ending slavery before the U.S Civil War were white abolitionists. In a parallel way, having more women in senior positions is not going to happen until men take up the cause and champion the fact that workplace equality is good for business and employees of both genders. Quite frankly, this is not a movement women can win on their own – we need men on-side. In response to the link I put out to the article, Adam wrote: I agree with the key premises of this article: 1. Gender is not just a women’s issue and 2. In male dominated fields positive change requires male engagement. However, based on my experience, the recommendations miss the point in two key respects:1. To get that engagement and buy in there must be a well laid out “business case” that comes first (appealing to fairness is secondary in terms of impact sadly) 2. Senior (male) managers need to be at the forefront, not HR. If any sort of diversity initiative is perceived to be driven by HR then it can all to easily be dismissed by men as “not relevant to me” or special pleading (especially since HR is often disproportionately staffed by women) I would love to hear any other views – male or female – on this subject.

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