- Isabella Lenarduzzi

The alliance between men and women for better equality and improved performance

Just a few days to go until the JUMP Forum in Brussels and little more than a month until Paris. This year’s theme focuses on encouraging men to get more involved in gender diversity policy in the workplace, as well as looking for new ways of working with them to ensure a better gender balance in the labour market and a more inclusive and efficient management of talent. As long as men think that this subject doesn’t concern them, or that they stand to lose something, equality in the workplace will not be able to advance.

The Forum in Brussels particularly welcomes among its distinguished guest speakers, Dr Michael Kimmel — the American sociologist, and leading international researcher and writer on men and masculinity. He is author of more than 20 books that are referred to around the world, including the latest, which is already a bestseller: “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism”. As a white, middle-class man Michael Kimmel has long considered that he has neither race nor gender: “Men mistakenly think that they embody objectivity. For them gender issues are a matter for women and minorities. But that’s wrong. Gender, as with skin colour, is a fundamental element in our identity.”

Challenges of engaging men in gender diversity in the workplace

Why should men get involved in what they consider to be a women’s battle? Simple – because no team should leave half of its best players sitting on the bench, while the other half continue to fight on alone to reach their goals!

Engaging men is essential to achieve equality between men and women. Men can play a decisive role in advancing equality and in benefiting from it.

Of course, quotas can help ensure balance between the genders in senior management roles, but changing the culture of an organisation can only happen if some men persuade others, particularly male managers, to get involved and admit that diversity at every level and in all sectors is essential for the improved performance of the company and that it’s a win-win result for everyone in terms of well-being at work.

We must accept that the current model of power was built by men but often means sacrifices for those men who submit themselves to this archetype (cult of performance, detachment from family life, emotional barriers, ….). This model should be challenged, first by women who have paid a high price for centuries, but also by men who aspire to escape the shackles to which they are bound.

The issue of equality is a great opportunity to question the modes of operation of our businesses and society as a whole, and to measure the costs to the community for women but also for men.

The recent massive presence of women in business and the advent of so-called “feminine values” worn by men as by women can define a new model for civilisation that is more inclusive, responsible and sustainable.

That’s the challenge for JUMP!

Looking forward to meeting you at the JUMP Forum in Brussels or Paris.