Lower engagement from men hinders gender equality initiatives in the workplace. Bain Partner Chio Verastegui identifies five themes that can spur action in organizations and individuals, making the gender equality movement more gender equal itself.
Read the Bain Report: Better Together: Increasing Male Engagement in Gender Equality Efforts in Australia
Read the transcript below.
CHIO VERASTEGUI: Gender equality has been proven to positively affect business outcomes. Our research showed that 17% of men are highly engaged in gender equality initiatives, but 13% are not engaged at all. That leaves 70% in that benign middle. Based on how engaged they currently are and how engaged they want to be, we identified two groups of men—the supporters, who represent around three quarters of men, and the passives, who are the other quarter.
When we asked them why they are not as engaged as they could be, the two groups had two reasons in common. One was the lack of time. And the other one was other priorities. When we asked supporters why they weren't as engaged as they could be, what they said was that they didn't know how to engage, or the right tools and forums were not available to them.
We identified five themes that organizations and individuals can action in order to increase male engagement in gender equality. The first one is leadership commitment. Ultimately, leaders need to walk the talk and role model the right behaviors. Second is continuing to communicate. We need to communicate the case for change and need to communicate the benefits of more diverse teams. Number three is more inclusive inclusion and diversity programs. Men need to be part of the solution. They need to feel welcome, and they need to feel like they have a safe space where they can help. Number four is making it personal. Men see the benefit for their female friends and relatives in gender equality. And number five is better, not just more, engagement.
We know that the No. 1 barrier for male engagement is lack of time. But men don't have to invest necessarily more time. It's about investing the time in the right things, those that are truly going to move the needle. If we want to advance gender equality, the gender equality movement itself needs to be more gender equal. Gender equality has moved from being a social concept to a business asset. Everyone benefits from it, not just women. Men and organizations do as well. And so it should be everyone's issue to resolve together.
Given their predominance in leadership positions, it is critical to ensure that men have an equal stake in gender parity.