Men must step up and help to shatter the Glass Wall

 
Kathryn Jacob
European Parliament Meets As Greece Crisis Festers
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This is the year that we have had the countless issues facing women in the workplace brought fully into focus.

The disturbing landscape of mistreatment in the workplace, from Hollywood to Parliament, coupled with the clear evidence of women failing to achieve pay parity, means that the interaction between men and women at work has never been so topical.

We haven’t even started to grasp the proliferation of sharing the hashtag #metoo.

While we are shocked by pay gaps of up to 88 per cent, we must also look closely at behaviours within the workplace that seem to make certain practices acceptable.

Legislation has been put in place to address the glass ceiling, but there is still a glass wall.

Women and men see each other clearly through the glass wall, but they often can’t fully communicate because they don’t speak the same language. And the barrier seems intractable.

Within my own industry – advertising – there was an outcry at the statement by Justin Tindall, creative director of M&C Saatchi, who declared that he was “sick of diversity being prioritised over talent”. He subsequently withdrew his remarks and apologised for the piece.

Shortly after, Caitlyn Ryan of Cheil published a piece outlining the full extent of the issues faced by women fighting to establish careers in the male-dominated creative departments.

It’s not just advertising agencies where women face daily behaviours that make them wonder why they ever chose that career, that role, that job.

In the year since The Glass Wall was published, my co-author Sue Unerman and I have spoken at more than 70 events, and we will take to WeWork’s Thinking Stage next week to reflect on that year of talks and feedback.

So many times we meet men who want a better workplace for their daughters, but they need to act now by helping their partners, colleagues and friends.

We need to work to establish a programme that develops sustainable strategies to create change. Strategies where it is clear that workplace progression is about your talent, not about cultivating senior colleagues.

We must call out unacceptable “banter” and communicate clearly about the issues we face.

We must make sure that women aren’t talked over in meetings and that we encourage them to ask for what they need to progress and thrive.

By encouraging female talent, there is also a very clear financial return. Numerous studies show that boards with a significant proportion of women actually generate a higher level of profit.

Business operates on relatively short term cycles, so for all the men who aspire for the daughters to have a better career, they need to start implementing change now.

Work within your organisation to retain the female talent, and be part of the change that puts an end to #metoo.