How to move beyond gender differences in the workplace

  1. For some men, the natural order of things appears to be shifting, which can feel threatening or, at the very least, different. More jobs being taken by women means fewer for men, and that can seem like a personal threat. Assuming men will be advocates just because it's the right thing to do overlooks their personal context.
  2. Differences in communication habits and styles between men and women can result in misunderstandings. This doesn't mean that either person is wrong; there may just be a lack of understanding about how one individual's communication style affects the other. Step into the other person's shoes a little and laugh about those differences, while helping to educate each other.
  3. Some people have never had feedback on how they appear to others, and they may not even know they have historical biases. Don't start off all guns blazing; just make the problem transparent for them. Only once you are sure that they are aware of what they are doing and that it's not helpful, but they are persisting in that behaviour, should you challenge them.
  4. The best way to learn is in a safe space where we can ask silly questions and mess things up. So, help your male colleagues learn how to interact well with women, recognising that sometimes they may be terrified of putting their foot in it. Have a one-to-one meeting to help them try something out and laugh through it. Don't humiliate them in public or they won't try again.
  5. Be consistent, and stay alert and mindful. This is not a simple fix, and one of the best ways for others to learn is to know that the change you are asking for is part of your brand. 

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