The drive to promote and develop women in the workplace has delivered the added benefit of stimulating the debate about achieving a healthy work/life balance for both sexes.
Gender equality being all about, well, you know – equality, has meant that achieving the perfect blend of career satisfaction with quality time spent outside the workplace is no longer just a female pursuit.
Recent research undertaken by Jennie Flower, Minerva Engagement’s Business Development Director with both male and female senior heads and managers, suggests that in recent years women have become more assertive in setting the terms under which they are prepared to take on a senior role rather than necessarily making the sacrifices that a previous generation would have done.
So, too we’re seeing a shift in attitudes and a similar level of assertion from the male workforce when it comes to striving for a better work/life balance;
“I can’t count the number of school sports days, the nativity plays that I had to miss because I would automatically put work events first. I’m noticing a generation of men who will say to me, ‘I’m sorry, I’m leaving at 5:00 because I’ve got a nativity play to go to’.” William Eccleshare, Global CEO
The potential for women to enjoy active and lucrative career choices means that the traditional role of man as sole breadwinner in a shared household no longer holds true. Whilst initially, this may have been seen as threatening, there is increasing evidence that men and businesses alike are getting to grips with a multitude of benefits that gender equality at work can bring.
Looking at male attitudes to the drive to increase female board members to FTSE 100 companies, Amanda MacKenzie of the Davies Review Steering Group in 2014 commented;
“Over the past 3 years I have seen the debate move from irritation, to resentment, to acceptance and now the issue is being embraced holistically”
Whilst from a business perspective, research by Catalyst and others has shown conclusively that gender equal companies;
“have lower levels of attrition. They have an easier time recruiting. They have higher rates of retention, higher job satisfaction, higher rates of productivity” Michael Kimmell, Ted Talk, 2015
So if men can now feel adequately reassured that embracing the concept of gender equality is actually good for business, then the burden of bringing home the bread can be alleviated, and perhaps not before time.
“An awful lot of men of my age are burned out, bored and fed up at 50. I’ve had a break, I’ve had a change, …. so I feel really energised”, Female Partner in Top 100 Law Firm
And as gender equality progresses, for the first time men and women are being given the concept of choice when it comes to their careers, as Head of HR at one of the world’s top 5 financial investment firms predicts;
“Increasingly we’ll see individuals who get to their mid-forties who say you know what, the money’s great but I don’t want to do this anymore, because I’d rather have a life.”
So whilst women grapple for their place at the board table, men, it would seem are having a similar grapple for the place in the school hall and once it all settles down, this will surely provide a better balance for society as a whole.
Jennie Flower, Business Development Director, Minerva Engagement
Minerva Engagement improves business from the inside out. Ask us how we can help embed change within your organisation and deliver programmes to promote gender diversity for the benefit of your business. View more blogs from Minerva Engagement or follow us on Twitter @MinervaEngage.