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Why companies should foster the gender equality dialogue among its male workforce too

Sairee Chahal
29th Apr 2016
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Gender diversity, a conversation that is typically owned by groups and forums of women. Most times, the conversation acts as an echo chamber, preaching to the converted, singing to the choir. However, a lot of undercurrents are pushing this dynamic to change – more communication, better technologies, evolving family structure, more women being educated, more entrepreneurial thinking, global living, the in-sync workplace and changing laws all help the cause. The contours of gender debate are not so homogenous any more and there is space for more diversity. There are sexual rights, workplace issues, gender pay gap, marital equality and more so individual work-life design.

Gender-Equality
(image credit – Shutterstock)

Parenting, once a women’s earmarked domain, is also opening up to to a shared dynamic. More and more men are taking charge and being vocal about how they feel in the workplace and about parenting issues. Younger men and women are more in charge of their decisions, whether it is the workplace, marriage or the lack of it, sexual preferences, personal preferences and fitness.

When we talk about gender, we’re not actually just talking about women. It concerns both, and the dialogue won’t go far without the input of men. They have a critical role to play in diversity and additional initiatives to eliminate gender bias. Traditionally, gender initiatives emphasised on improving women’s participation in the workplace, but recently there has been a shift towards making ‘gender’ a gender-neutral problem.

Raising children is one of the most rewarding jobs existing but it’s also one of the most difficult roles to play, especially among the career-driven parents. In a two-parent household, parenting requires partnership. So, instead of weighing on the women to decipher ways to overcome workplace obstacles or steer through the partiality they face at home, men are taking charge.

Let’s take a cue from one of America’s largest employers, Facebook, whose founder Mark Zuckerberg took a two-month long hiatus as a paternity leave to foster an environment of equality among Facebook’s employees. His idea was to promote the idea of an increased presence of men at home. Zuckerberg’s move indicates that coping with work and family isn’t just a woman’s business. Men taking paternity leave can promote a genuine understanding between both the genders at work and, in the long run, eliminate the traditional stereotypes that harm everyone.

Men, these days, have realised that they are in an equal partnership and share equal responsibilities as the women, be it at work or at home. In fact, shared parenting is finding a lot of momentum amongst an increasing numbers of parents, who seek success in both work and life.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of organisations these days are recognising the potential of their having women folk enhance their organisational efficiency. IT services and consulting major Accenture is moving ahead in maintaining gender diversity not only in the organisation but also in the working population as a whole. Through a slew of measures, like returning mothers programme, high-tech women programme, and more, it is aiming at retaining the existing women in the team and getting more number of them on board.

In India, a biased attitude towards men and women has existed for generations. Although Indian constitution grants equal rights to both men and women, gender disparity still exists in a major part of the country. This gender discrimination results in impeding growth, with lower female-to-male population ratios. By extending the advantage of a paid time-off to career-driven parents at workplaces, apart from introducing women to challenging and leadership roles at workplaces, not only will gender imbalances will witness a gradual elimination from society, but it may also contribute to ‘balancing’ the population, something that India direly needs.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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