The Man Code. It’s Real, And It’s Pervasive.

Is It Affecting Your Culture?

By Jeffery Tobias Halter. You know it’s true and pervasive in our culture and organizations. Man up. Suck it up. Be tough. There is a man code that guides men’s actions, both in and out of the office.
You know what these are. Masculine norms are certain behaviors that boys are taught as children that are reinforced by members of the group. If you want to fit in, you’d better play by the rules!
Forty years later, the “rules” established on the playground transform into male cultural norms in organizations. By default, they are still the operating norms for most men in companies today. But how does the man code affect your workplace culture and when does it become a barrier to the advancement of women in the workplace?
For the first 20 years of my career, I was often a conscious and unconscious reinforcer of these male cultural norms. I spent 20 years in Field Operations, and I quickly learned that you’d better be tough because your mettle was tested every day. I also worked with some very strong women who had to assimilate to fit in. It’s just what you did. But times have changed, right? Or have they?
I now coach organizations on how to engage men in women’s leadership advancement. One of the highest barriers to advocating for women in the workplace that we discuss is the suspicion that we are somehow violating the tenets of the man code by encouraging men to advocate for women.
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