Gender inclusivity for middle managers

Male middle managers must be encouraged to view gender equality as business-critical

It is a much-lamented issue that there are not enough women in leadership positions. A common approach has been to support women to ensure that they fit into organisations. However, ‘fixing the women’ has not solved the issue. Instead of changing women it is organisational practices that need to change.

The majority of leaders and managers are men and in a numerical majority to effectively progress change in organisations. Male managers are in a central position to influence organisational cultures. With many CEOs making gender parity a priority, middle managers should listen to this call for action and reflect on how they could support gender equality. The hierarchical position of middle managers means that they translate the strategic direction they receive from the top to their immediate environment. HR professionals should guide male middle managers on that journey.

While great strides have been taken to make workplaces more gender equal, gender inequality is perpetuated by many subtle workplace practices. The practices male middle managers can engage in to support gender parity largely centre on such small-scale behaviours. These practices were derived from research that included job shadowing and interviews with male middle managers and their co-workers. They fall broadly into four categories.

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