Collaborating with men: Changing workplace culture to be more inclusive for women

Women continue to report that they commonly experience behaviours and assumptions from male peers and bosses in the workplace that frustrate them and impede promotion by merit. These behaviours include being interrupted and talked over in meetings and being side-lined from many informal conversations where decisions are often really made.

Suggested solutions for men to improve the workplace culture for both women and men are:

  • ‘Just Ask’ – Facilitated, safe space meetings in which the evidence on workplace culture can be aired along with any issues women working in the team think they experience because of their gender. Teams can then discuss possible solutions with the help of the long list of ideas that came from this research.
  • ‘Making visible’ how things get done in practice – Power audits conducted by mixed gender teams after a project is finished to make visible how and where decisions were made. This will improve how gender diverse teams work together.
  • Building close relationships – A key insight from the research stresses the importance of extending mixed gender networks to make it more likely that a woman comes to mind when an opportunity arises. Ways this can be achieved include:
    • Networking with a social agenda – for example ‘Walkabout Wednesdays’ when everyone is expected to have coffee with someone new.
    • Networking as a by-product of something useful – for example, ‘Take 2’ buddy ups when you need cover for 2 hours whilst you do something outside work.
    • Networking related to work – for example, ‘Mixed gender mentoring’ to share skills and perspectives on a work project.
  • ‘Bystanders Amplify’ – One of many ideas for individual interventions suggests that by being aware of man-interrupting problems in meetings, men can intervene by repeating a woman’s idea and giving her credit. This can be done sensitively.
  • Actions from Leaders - Individual actions need to be authorised by leaders taking a clear stance. Male role models are needed to transform workplace culture yet the men who take on this role often face backlash. Leaders can help by rewarding and supporting men who make changes to support gender parity.