What men perceive as barriers to gender inclusion and diversity

Business People hangout together at coffee shop

Gender diversity is now no longer about women smashing the glass ceiling and forcing their way into the men’s world; instead, it’s time to reverse twentieth century thinking and ask: what do the men want, think and feel about gender inclusion and diversity? What do they perceive as barriers to gender inclusion and  diversity? And if men listen to other men – how can we help to change the way in which they think and speak when it comes to levelling the playing field?

Tech companies around the world are grappling with the gender issue. This issue ranges in magnitude from at worst, just very poor behaviour, to at best, how do we attract and keep more women!

49% of the men say there aren’t enough women tech because THEY’RE NOT CHOOSING TO ENTER THE TECH FIELD. However, 29% of women believed that the lack of women in tech boiled down to UNCONSCIOUS BIAS IN HIRING OR PROMOTIONS.

What do you think?

emberin pioneered working with men to make gender inclusion and diversity happen in organisations over 12 years ago. Our hypothesis back then was that righteous men wanted to help women with their careers, but sometimes they didn’t know what they had to do. We proved our hypothesis true thousands of times over the last 12 years. We have found that in helping those good decent men to understand that the approach you might take to supporting a woman in her career may just be different to the approach for men. Why? Well, quite simply, because we are different!

emberin’s perspective is that a good starting point is to acknowledge the dichotomy that many men may feel about gender diversity – they’re the good guys, they may be great husbands and fathers, they’re not sexist, they have women working for them, so why are they being “punished” by human resources and made to attend training courses?

And, of course – this is all very true; many men are all of these things and more, they are champions of women both at home and at work. But how can we create more of them and make all men true champions of gender diversity?

Over the years, I have been vocal about the big role men play in supporting women in their careers, even before it became a trendy topic of conversation.

One point became very clear to me – I had had success in the corporate world almost entirely because of the support of some amazing men. Yes, there were some great women along the way – but them alone are not enough.

The people who knew my business, who pushed me, who challenged me and who believed in the way I did business – were all men.

Were these great guys big proponents for gender diversity? Well, not overtly. I now realise that in fact they were – we just never labelled it as that.

To me these men were treasures, my champions, my mentors. They are people to whom I owe a big debt – many of whom are still great mates. What I always knew was that these men were different and special. I have just never ‘named it’ – and neither have they.

These guys were big proponents for women – and I know there are many men just like these out there. Until that point I had worked with many of our major organisations to assist them with only growing great women leaders. The focus has been on the women – how can we empower them? Although I still believe this is a critical issue and that women generally need help to build their confidence levels, I have now also realised that a big part of the formula is to understand the essence of men like my champions – and the many men in our corporate world who are like them. The question I had at the time was – how can we empower these men to teach other men and how can we ‘clone’ them?

What are the secret ingredients to helping men have their ‘ah- ha’ moments and start to really get gender diversity and why it is important to them?

23% of women connect the lack of industry role models and mentors to lack of women in tech. What do you think?

Catalyst research, “Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know”, has put a spotlight on some of the issues holding men back. In the research they interviewed men who fitted the description of “champions”.

The men were asked what they saw as the biggest barriers to men’s commitment to gender equity initiatives. The barriers were seen as:

  • Fear of being blamed or making mistakes
  • Fear of other men’s disapproval
  • Lack of awareness of the cost of inequity – especially personal costs to men
  • Apathy

8% of men believe that poor recruitment into college programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was the cause for the lack of women in tech, with only 1% of women placing the blame on education. What do you think?

In a survey of men identified by women as ‘champions’, we asked:

‘In general, do you think it is harder for women to advance in organisations?’

The overwhelming answer was “yes”, many saying, ‘sadly’, ‘unfortunately’, but also saying that it had improved and was improving. The most common reasons given were:

  • Having children is an impediment, becomes a competing priority. A sample comment: With some organisations, there is this conveyor belt mentality. You’re on a path. You step off to have children and then you get trampled on from the people from behind
  • Men have bigger egos, are more competitive and many organisations “reward noise over behaviours”
  • Men don’t understand the value of women
  • Stereotypes still exist today around men and women and what they can and cannot do
  • Unsupportive work practices, abhorrent behaviours
  • Lack of female role models

The main reason given for the “No” opinion was:

  • The biggest problem is women’s motivation, stepping up to the plate.

Barriers to advancement: “lack of mentoring is a real problem”

From a list compiled from other various international research documents, men were asked to nominate what they saw as barriers to women’s advancement in the workforce and why. They could also freely nominate their own beliefs and these are included in the explanations that follow.

Here is a comment from one of the research subjects:

‘It is mostly us guys who are the blockers when it comes to women’s careers… Us guys, unknowingly put our women into roles that are not at the cutting edge, at the operational end of the business…What that translates to is a difficulty for women to get promoted and escalate through the ranks.’

We feel that men are the key to success in gender diversity efforts. Many industries, especially the tech industry, are grappling with this issue on so many levels. Our challenge to good men: STEP UP AND LEAD! It’s the men that can improve gender diversity and inclusion.

Men, lend your support to the high performing females today!

emberin are proudly hosting the 10,000 Women in Tech APAC Virtual Conference, and we are calling all men to be a part of the movement too! The conference costs just US$50 for the entire week, which includes hearing tips and strategies for career success from 50+ high calibre speakers from across the globe. Sign up here.

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