That is the purpose and message from Male Champions of Change (MCC) Institute working with influential leaders to redefine the role men play and their actions on gender equality.
In a media release today, MCC have announced 100+ chiefs of Australia’s largest and influential organisations have committed to eliminating everyday sexism in the workplace.
MCC consulted with more than 6,000 employees from a range of sectors to understand what everyday sexism looks like, the impact on individuals, career advancement and productivity; and what actions need to be taken to eliminate this type of workplace dynamic.
FlexCareers understands the importance of this topical issue; we realise how widespread it is, and how many of our community members have been impacted by it. It is crucial action is taken.
According to MCC’s report, there are six common forms of everyday sexism including: ‘insults that masquerade as jokes; devaluing women’s views or voices; role stereotyping; preoccupation with physical appearance over competence; assumptions that caring and careers don’t mix; and unwarranted gender labelling such as when women are diminished for being ‘too aggressive’ or men because they ‘lack competitive edge’’.
Graham Ashton, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police says: “Most people don’t want to be accused, let alone guilty, of sexist behaviour while some often dismiss the subject as political correctness gone mad…Yet we see it play out every single day in the media, in politics, in our workplaces and in the community. What we learned is that underlying or ‘everyday’ sexism impacts women and men and – whether intentional or not – it can take a significant and cumulative toll on the personal lives and career progression of employees and also the effectiveness of organisations.”
It’s understandable given the sensitive and highly-nuanced topic when working with employees. Yet, not enough is being seen to be done.
Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, acknowledges some sectors have identified and responded decisively to more ‘explicit forms of sexual harassment’ however it is still apparent in everyday workplace interactions, systems, policies and decisions that affect both individual careers and organisational cultures.
“Typically, people don’t raise it because it can be seen as too small to make a fuss about and few want to be seen to be ‘rocking the boat’. But consistently in my work – with Victoria Police, the Australian Defence Force, the Universities and Male Champions of Change – we hear that these things do matter. They are out-dated at best, harmful at worst. Unless we tackle everyday sexism, the most innovative policies and initiatives designed to advance gender equality and inclusive and effective organisations will not deliver the change we need.”
Male Champions have developed a framework and language to identify and respond to everyday sexism, insisting on the importance of ‘open discussion, goodwill and leadership in taking steps to eliminate it’.
“As leaders, we have a responsibility to set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour within our organisations,” says Medibank CEO, and FlexCareers partner, Craig Drummond. “A culture that does not hold people to account on everyday sexism – be it conscious or otherwise – is not a healthy one. Australian businesses need to look at themselves with a more critical eye and ask themselves if they are enabling the wrong behaviours.”
The report gives recommendations and actions to be taken to make changes to this workplace epidemic including: not supporting sexist ‘humour’ by laughing or staying silent; including and valuing women’s voices in meetings and decisions; challenging role stereotyping; and supporting the personal choices employees make about caring and careers.
It is fantastic to see so many FlexCareers Employer Partners signatories to the report.
FlexCareers will keep fighting for our community, giving them a voice and choosing partnerships with employers who are making a difference in eradicating everyday sexism in the workplace.
‘We Set the Tone: Eliminating Everyday Sexism’ is available here on the Male Champions of Change website.