How men are getting it wrong in the workplace

A third of men surveyed feel women are treated unfairly in the workplace; yet, only 10 percent think their workplace is a part of the problem. That’s according to the results of the most recent Men in the Workplace Survey, conducted by Fairygodboss and Artemis Connection.

Is there an issue?
When we consider the numbers, there is a clear discrepancy. Of the 318 men surveyed, 90 percent have female colleagues, and 73 percent have women reporting to them. Yet, only 27 percent of those same men report to a female supervisor. And, the C-suite appears to follow the same pattern, with most positions filled by men, including that of the CEO, which is male 89 percent of the time.

What is really interesting, however, is how few of those surveyed believe their place of work has an issue. While 67 percent of managers and 64 percent of non-managers believe women are treated fairly in the general workforce, 90 percent of managers and 84 percent of non-managers believe they’re treated fairly in their own workplace. This is likely a large part of the reason why so few have stepped forward in an effort to advance female inclusion, as we see in the following responses:

  • 43% — Privately advocated for equality, inclusion and diversity
  • 53% — Publicly advocated for equality, inclusion and diversity
  • 30% — Met with women in the workplace to discuss equality, inclusion and diversity
  • 21% — Identified cases of inequality or lack of diversity and worked to fix them
  • 20% — Have not acted as an ally

The impact on the workplace
How important is it to fix the problems women face in the workplace? Fifty-six percent of managers and 61 percent of non-managers believe it to be very important, while 30 percent of managers and 31 percent of non-managers believe it to be somewhat important. I’m going to side with those who believe it to be very important, especially after the release of the following results byGallup and Catalyst:

  • A demographically diverse workforce can improve a company’s financial performance
  • Gender-diverse teams outperform single-gender teams
  • Women outperform men on several leadership competencies
  • Greater diversity is related to lower intent-to-leave

While many still follow John Kotter’s top-down approach to change in the workplace (the Harvard change guru), results of this survey show a different method is needed. Having also asked women about their workplace experiences, the survey reveals that nearly half feel they are not treated equally in the workplace, with 33 percent saying it “depends on their manager.” Middle management, it would seem, is the place we need to start.

Taking action
The good people at Fairygodboss and Artemis Connection collectively recommend five steps to addressing this issue in your own workplace, with which I agree.

  1. Do your own research. Take the questions asked in this survey and create your own. The insights be eye-opening.
  2. Open the dialogue. Communication is necessary to addressing issues like this. If it’s not talked about, it’s as good as ignored, and that sends the ‘it’s okay’ message. Talking openly and consistently about inclusion is a big step in the right direction toward making it happen.
  3. Train managers. Don’t scoff at the need for inclusion training. If anything, the results of this survey show that most men don’t have a clue what drives women or makes them feel included. Professional training can go a long way to increasing understanding.
  4. Create accountability. Once you’ve opened the dialogue and set the expectation, your next best step is to tie that expectation to reward. Keep your people accountable by making the act of inclusion part of the role.
  5. Learn. Iterate. — By this, they mean that you should experiment and see what works best for your workplace. Then do it repeatedly. There is no one-size-fits all, but creating the right environment is more than half the battle.

To read the full results report of the Men in the Workplace Survey, conducted by Fairygodboss and Artemis Connection, click here.

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders.

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