Gender equality and women’s rights are not just women’s issues - they are human rights issues. To achieve an equal world for all, everybody needs to ensure that they are staying accountable, as well as calling out others when necessary. Men play a key part in this - especially in the workplace. Taking responsibility for change is the only real way that change will happen. Particularly in male-dominated environments, the onus also falls on men to step up and show solidarity with the women they work with.
According to Croner “The most male-dominated industries in the UK include agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, financial & insurance activities, information and communication, manufacturing, mining, energy and water supply and transport and storage.
It is worth noting that there are sectors which are substantially dominated by women too. These include human health & social work activities and education.
Industries which have more than 55% domination by a single gender can be considered to lack gender diversity. This may be due to a number of reasons, including human resource management, but the value of diversification remains. As an employer, it is important that you look to widen your talent pool and avoid unconscious bias to create equal opportunities. This will help you avoid legal action on the grounds of gender discrimination.”
So, how can men show solidarity in the workplace - particularly if they are in an environment that is dominated by men?
Operating in a “male-dominated industry” isn’t a free pass.
We are fortunate to have some fantastic women in our business and have a great balance in some areas, including at Board and Senior Leadership levels.
However, we know there is an imbalance in other areas and we’re making big efforts to address that, so that we have role models across the business, in all roles and at all levels.
We’re working hard to ensure we’re very aware of our responsibilities to create a supportive and transparent environment to attract, retain and progress women on an equal footing.
Give credit where credit is due
Are you celebrating the achievements of women in your organisation? Credit and recognition are so important, regardless of gender, seniority, or tenure. So, make a conscious effort to uplift and celebrate women’s achievements. In a male-dominated environment, the dynamic is naturally going to be different - and it may not be part of your culture to celebrate the smaller wins.
But, what’s important to note is that if you’re a minority within an organisation - in this case, a woman - you will already be trying to “prove” yourself subconsciously; working extra hard to earn your place in an environment that isn’t quite built for you right now. So, give credit - even for the small things. It boosts confidence and makes the world of difference behind closed doors.
Ensure that there is representation
If you’re an organisation or team that is predominantly men, what role models do you have to represent women? This can be difficult if you struggle to hire women already - especially at leadership level, so what representation can you bring in externally to inspire the next generation of women that you’re looking to hire?
It could be an external consultant, it could be events and talks that you can send employees to, or it could literally be sitting down with the women in your organisation and finding out the mentorship and support that they need.
If you can’t see someone who is “like” you progressing within your current organisation, the barrier to entry can almost feel invisible. Creating representation creates opportunity, inspires, and ultimately creates a more inclusive environment - particularly for women.
Close the salary gap (please)
This goes without saying - but you must look at your remuneration across the whole business. If you don’t have salary bandings or at least fair criteria in place, then it’s time to review this as a priority.
There is a clear gender pay gap across all industries, and failure to ensure that women and men in your organisation are remunerated fairly and equally will create issues later on down the line. People do discuss their salaries - and the last thing you want is for people to find out that they’re being paid differently to do the same job with the same skills acquired.
“Transparency means being open about processes, policies and criteria for decision-making. This means employees are clear about what is involved, and that managers understand that their decisions need to be objective and evidence-based because those decisions can be reviewed by others. Introducing transparency to promotion, pay and reward processes can reduce pay inequalities.” - Gov.UK
Look at promotional criteria
How clear are your promotional criteria and how inclusive is it to women? Consider the paths that you’ve currently got in place and question yourself - how achievable is this for a woman? Out of men and women, it’s clear that a woman’s path is naturally going to be different - particularly if she is looking to have children.
How do your promotional criteria acknowledge this and what things do you have in place to make promotions achievable for part-time or returning mothers?
Maternity and Paternity leave
We’ll keep this section simple - make sure that your maternity and paternity leave is equal (or you’re working towards equal mat and pat leave) - it’s that simple.
Show up and call out behaviour
Rather than being bystanders or complicit in instances of gender inequality, have solidarity with women and take action on those issues. No matter how big or small it may be - failure to acknowledge bad behaviour enforces that this behaviour will be tolerated within your team or organisation.
It breeds an unhealthy dynamic and ultimately will leave you struggling to retain and hire women - it could also drastically affect your reputation in the marketplace and cause long-term negative effects. Additionally, it costs nothing to call out behaviour; no one should be made to feel uncomfortable or unsupported in the workplace, and it’s important to remember that being silent - means being complicit.