Why Women Need Men…Young Men.

Photo courtesy of ‘Business Insider’

When I am running seminars or courses I am often asked if I think the position re women at work is changing, as in improving. My reply is usually along the lines of that my 22 year old self never thought my 62 year old self would still be campaigning on issues of equality, or that it would have taken this long for women to be heard, (I am thinking particularly of the sexual harassment cases engulfing us). However, I usually add the caveat that true gender equality, as well as improving the bottom line for businesses, also improves the lives of men, particularly young men. I was heartened to see a recent piece of research saying exactly that.

In the report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), How Millennial Men Can Help Break the Glass Ceiling, 96 per cent of companies in which men were actively involved in pushing forward gender diversity reported progress being made. By comparison, at companies where men were not involved with such endeavours, just 30 per cent showed progress. The report was based on the answers of 17,500+ respondents from more than 20 countries.

“Younger men today are more attuned to fairness in the workplace and are looking for a different way of working relative to their predecessors,” said Katie Abouzahr, principal at the BCG and one of the authors of the report. “These insights offer an opportunity for companies attempting to create a progressive work environment to differentiate themselves and gain an edge in recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent.”

The findings, which were based on the answers of more than 17,500 respondents from more than 20 countries, also revealed that millennial men’s wants tended to be much better aligned with women’s views than their older counterparts. When asked what kind of policies their business should introduce next, men under 40 ranked work-life balance initiatives, including flexible working, as their number one priority – much like their female colleagues. Men over 40, on the other hand, were more focused on promoting leadership transparency and commitment.

When asked to rank the policies they would value the most from an employer from a list of 39 options, men under 40 were much more likely than men over 40 to place family friendly proposals – such as onsite childcare and parental leave – in their top six. This was true even when the younger men were not parents themselves.

Hopeful signs, and a message to businesses: gender equality is good for you and your profits, and it’s good for your next generation of talent.  Sound business sense, nurture your talent, make gender equality a strategic move. And women, work with those young men to effect change, and help educate the older men who have yet to understand the importance of gender equality. No more women’s groups, but gender equality strategies, involving everyone.

Less hopeful is a report from the European Institute for Gender Equality, published in October 2017, warning that gender equality at work in the UK, and across the EU more widely, had improved little over the last 10 years. No time to rest on our laurels.

The full Boston report is available here.

Just in case you don’t know, I have a one day course running in Brisol on November 28th. We have a few places left on RenewYou, a day for you to take stock of where you are at career wise, or personally, and seriously think about where you want to be in 12 months time. It’s a lovely day, no role play, but plenty of thought provoking exercises to help you think and plan. It’s also usually a great day to network and meet some interesting women, too. You can find out more here. It could be the best thing you do all year.

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Posted on November 8th, 2017 by

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