When it comes to gender equality there is a lot of support for women. How women can increase their confidence, what we need for women in the workplace to thrive and enable flexibility etc. I am a HUGE advocate for all of this. As a working mum of 3 young children, if I didn’t have the flexibility I have at work there is just no way I could make it work.
But what can Men do to help support this further, and assist with bridging the gap?
Start at home: The typical male/ female roles are starting to really blur these days, and helping out more around the house is a great place to start. My husband and I still have our “roles” at home- I do most of the washing, he does the bins and the lawn, but everything else is pretty even. We share all the drop offs/ pick ups. We both cook, we both clean and we have developed a partnership that allows me to work and not be totally burnt out. Gone are the days when most Men go to work and the woman stays at home doing all the jobs. If we want equality in the workplace, we need equality at home too.
Do the school run: On that note, it’s so nice to see lots of Dads doing the Daycare and School drop offs and pick ups. I feel like it’s almost 50/50 some days. So keeping that going is essential to enable equality. This does have to filter through to the workplace as well. When I started work I made it very clear that I was going to need flexible hours to do school drop offs and pick ups. When my husband was faced with this his response was “but I can’t ask to leave early to do school pick up” my response was naturally, as a feminist- “oh so it’s Ok for meeee to do it but not for a man”? He does half of the school runs. But my point is, we need to vocalise that it’s just as acceptable for dads to be doing the school runs as it is for the mums. Flexibility in the workplace and for parents needs to be across both genders, as much as I see men at the school gates- I rarely see one in a suit- so is it down to the type of profession that’s allowing more flexibility than the typical “Corporate” office?
Support female leaders: If you are a man in the workplace, make a conscious effort to empower your female colleagues and leaders. Treat them the same as you would another man, value their opinions and treat them fairly. Now we think that goes without saying but we are still in a changing environment and we are programmed to behave and think in certain ways. We may not be used to the amount of females especially in leadership roles as it’s only very recently started to rise (a very small amount), so it’s men’s responsibility to welcome females and help them to feel comfortable in their position.
Make work really work for mothers as well as dads: This goes back to my point about my husband feeling uneasy about telling his Director he was doing the school run. We need to ensure that the flexibility is both sided, for men and for women. Men also need to use this flexibility to set an example to others. I encourage any male leader that has children to implement at least 1 school pick up a week. And see the knock on effect that will have to the rest of your organisation. The same goes for parental leave. If you are a man with the opportunity to take parental leave- take it! See what us women have to deal with for a few months- ha I’m joking. Those times with your children are precious and you will never get it back. Pave the way for others and enjoy some time with your family.
Work on the belief system across the organisation. Now we’re really getting into the nitty gritty. I could talk about this all day, but I will keep it brief. We all have our own individual belief system and our own set of paradigms (google if unsure). Our belief systems are made up from our parents, and their parents etc. So most of us ages 35 onwards were most likely raised in a house where our Dads went to work and our Mum’s stayed at home and did everything in the house. That belief is still embedded in us so if we want to make a change- that’s where we need to do some work. Development of your people within an organisation is essential if you want bridge the gap in gender equality. We need to do training and development across the whole organisation to really foster a change. It starts with each individuals belief system, so making a change there needs to be number one.
If we want to seriously promote gender equality we need to do it across all areas of life, home and work. A female doesn’t want to go to work 4 days a week and still do absolutely everything at home, so men- start supporting your partners at home. The workplace is no different. Men and Women need to see themselves as equal which means work on both sides. The best way for men to encourage and support Gender equality is to live and breathe it themselves- then the real transition will happen.
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