A recent Business in the Community survey suggests that 52% of women are victims of bullying or harassment in the workplace. Whilst there are undoubtedly more women in positions of power and influence than there were 30 years ago, whilst women are suffering this type of behaviour, gender discrimmination is still alive and kicking.
As a white middle aged man, I am clearly part of the problem, as this behaviour is often perpetrated by my contemporaries. As we can see we may be part of the problem but I would argue that we are part of the solution as well.
As Carol Hanisch….argued in the 1960s the personal is the political. Any major transformation only occurs when individuals decide that there is personal motivation to make a positive change. Her feminism, defined a generation of thinking and never has it been truer. So what relevance does this have to workplace discrimination and my premise that I can be part of the solution?
I have two children a girl and a boy. We have raised them both to be ambitious and work hard at school in order to progress. One thing I have never brought her up to expect, is the potential for to be harassed or excluded or the target of ‘banter’… As she asked me few weeks ago ‘isn’t banter just a way to put others down?’ In addition, my son has always been encouraged to treat women as equals and with respect.
I am sure there are many men in my position, who have teenage daughters close to entering the world of work and I would suggest will want them to be the best they can be…and not want them to be subjected to unwanted comments, banter or worse. Equally, their sons, they will want to become respectful and collaborative. So why do we continue to let banter go unchallenged?
I suggest that we can be part of the solution even in the smallest way that takes no massive organisational backing, no money. It requires some change of mind set and just the smallest of actions….We can resist from the banter, we can challenge any of this behaviour when we see it. By doing this, we might just make a small dent in those shocking statistics, and be able to look our kids in the eye and say we really did leave the workplace a slightly more enjoyable place for everyone.