The Gender Gap – whose problem is it?

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Most people now agree that more needs to change in the workplace for a better gender balance at every level in organisations.  Men still occupy the majority of the top jobs. Increasingly action is being taken across a wide range of initiatives to address. So why is it that so few companies have succeeded in making real progress on gender balance at senior leadership levels?

First, because too many gender-equity initiatives focus solely on changing women, on framing them as the problem to be fixed, on challenging women to lean in, to network differently, to sell their achievements etc etc.  Further, those organisations then put resolution into their hands as well; in effect asking them to lead the change to the very organisational norms and practices that maintain the status quo.

In our view, the answer does not rest in ‘either’/’or’, it rests in ‘and’/’both’.  To really start to make progress on minimising gender disparities, men and women need to genuinely collaborate to make changes at a systemic level, while both genders look at flexing their own behaviours, learning from one another about other ways to operate in the workplace. Without the active support of men, who are arguably the most powerful stakeholder group in most large corporations, significant progress toward closing the gender gap is unlikely.

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