Tuesday, 6 August 2013

6 AUGUST 2013

The world of mandatory training has little allure, but in an age of laws and European Directives, it has become an essential part of working life. That said, it is generally with little enthusiasm that we complete our online learning modules or attend organised training sessions, as the often tedious and seemingly unnecessary training draws us away from our teeming inboxes and ringing phones.

This was my feeling anyway, until one recent training session on Equality & Diversity revealed to me a shocking statistic: recent research by Pearn Kandola shows that 80% of senior managers talk about a male first when asked to describe a successful manager.

What this shows is that there are either few female managers, or those managers that are female are not considered successful in the eyes of their male counterparts. Either way this statistic is not good.   

I must admit that, since working in the public sector, I have only had good experiences in terms of equality between males and females. Salaries are banded and therefore equal across genders, and whilst there are males in managerial roles, there are also many women leading the way as senior managers and directors. However, whilst my own workplace might be a shining beacon of success in equality and diversity terms, it worries me that this is not the norm.

Indeed, my own experience working as a paralegal in the private sector last year gave me a hint of the inequality which is out there between men and women in the workplace. Not necessarily in terms of seniority of position (I worked within a department with two female partners and only one male partner), but more in terms of mindset. I often got the feeling that that male partners tended to view females as inferior, and regularly heard such partners talking about women and other minority groups in derogatory terms. I won't go into detail, but comments were often vulgar and inappropriate.

What this experience says to me is that the statistic quoted by Pearn Kandola is more a result of an archaic, sexist mindset that manifests itself in the actions of far too many male managers, than a lack of females in managerial roles. Whilst it is good to see females lead successful careers as managers, true gender equality will never be realised until we alter the patriarchal mindset that exists in so many office environments.

I have no idea how to do this, and nor would I attempt to devise a fix-all remedy, but I can think of a good start: do your Equality & Diversity training, embrace it with enthusiasm, and encourage others to do the same. X  

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