Gender diversity benefits of men AND women
The benefits of gender diversity initiatives can be felt on different levels: as a person, as an employee in an organization, and as the citizen of a nation. The countries in the world with the highest gender equality have been shown also to score the highest on happiness (e.g. Norway, Denmark). Why is that?
The Norwegian researcher Øystein Gullvåg Holter was able to demonstrate that the benefits of gender equality stretch beyond women, but also positively affect men’s lives. He demonstrated that not only women reported a higher level or marital satisfaction and a higher level of health, but men did too. Similar studies found that the children of families in which household chores and child-rearing were shared equally showed higher rates of achievement, did better in school, were less likely to develop ADHD, and had lower rates of absenteeism (University of California, Riverside, 2003).
In terms of the personal benefits, a more flexible and inclusive environment allows men and women to be themselves and choose career paths that fit their lifestyles and preferences. In addition, there are proven benefits of gender diversity to organizations. McKinsey research has shown that gender-diverse organizations outperformed less diverse organizations by 15%. In addition to the economic advantage, research also showed that an inclusive culture that allowed more women to penetrate all levels of the organization led to lower attrition rates, higher productivity, and higher workforce engagement. Again, it seems that people are genuinely happier when men and women are perceived on par.
A male perspective of engaging in the gender diversity debate
We’ve asked our colleagues at Aperian to give advice, man to man, on how to start supporting a balanced gender approach.
“Daddy, can I play rugby too?” my 7 year old daughter asked me recently, after seeing her older brother in his first rugby game. I replied, “Sure, sweetie. Why not?”. Research shows that effective “sponsors” in the workplace are critical to developing a woman’s career. We’ll see real change, however, when Dad, Grandpa, and other men in our daughters’ lives start “sponsoring” girls well before they enter the workforce.
-Michael Greto, Managing Director of Learning Solutions, USA
Frankly, I don’t think men should “support” a balanced gender approach. If you ask men to support, it becomes their/our responsibility or obligation and they just do it for the sake of it. Instead, men should “co-own” or “co-drive” it as it is not just women’s responsibility to increase gender diversity with men “supporting” it. Achieving gender equality requires everybody’s efforts: I&D professionals (to educate men and women), men (to recognize and respect women’s strengths and contributions), and even women (to include men more in this discussion!)
-Michael Shen, Senior Global Account Manager, China
Question your own assumptions and those of others around you. Sometimes our personal or organizational biases are so deeply held that we forget to challenge assumptions – just because something was true at one point or in one specific situation doesn’t mean it is now or universally so. There are so many examples in research of the importance of diversity and inclusion – use them to make your point in the organization, and then find a way to incorporate it into the larger organization strategy to drive the idea home and make it a business imperative.
-Anthony Greco, Director of Learning Design & Delivery, USA
Have open-minded conversations about how to develop and support colleagues – women and/or men.
-Torben Krogh, Senior Global Account Manager, Denmark
In my work experience, it’s often been the women I’ve worked with who have had the most to add, done the best work, and offered the best advice. Therefore there’s a lot in it for men to learn from the women they work with.
-Ted Dale, co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, USA
Spend more time listening.
-Michael Van Vleet, Webtools Administrator, USA
The bulk of proven benefits for businesses, employees, and us humans in general should be enough evidence to persuade men, sons, and fathers to join the debate and push for gender diversity.