- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Women and Men at work: A battle of the sexes or an alliance of the genders?

This summer JUMP worked on its message. We have deliberately chosen to replace the words “empower women” by “promoting gender equality” and we have adapted all our products accordingly, except for the JUMP blog. We found that some men felt excluded from our commitment to achieve greater equality. This is despite the themes of the last two JUMP Forums that sought to engage men, or the recent survey that was dedicated to pioneering men who had reversed the traditional roles within their relationships. It comes despite the dozens of articles written by me or others and published in the JUMP blog that speak about the necessity of having men alongside women to ensure that companies enjoy more diversity and society is more fair and equal. We have also changed the Woman’s Academy to the JUMP Academy and from now on will offer workshops on equality aimed at groups of men only or women/men mixed, while continuing to develop those workshops aimed at developing the careers of women.

Why has JUMP changed its message?

Because more and more diversity officers are experiencing a revolt among some men (supported by a few women who are not completely aware of the dangerous game in which they are playing) who try to undermine actions that favour greater gender diversity. Those who try to sabotage a process towards greater gender balance are more outspoken in companies where the top managers are not particularly engaged or not sufficiently communicative about equality between women and men. Those responsible for more gender equality have seen their budgets decrease, the lack of results for some actions is often no longer analysed nor explained and the glaring absence of performance indicators for all actions is becoming more widespread.

Do we have a battle of the sexes at the office?

According to CIurt Rice, a Norwegian expert, all the studies prove that actions promoting gender equality at work and quantitative targets (quotas) significantly increase the competence of a whole team and in turn strengthen the performance of a company. This result is achieved because companies that are committed to greater gender equality, and that make it known, attract more high potential women and increased competition for positions of responsibility means better managers. What is true for the world of business, is also true for politics as highlighted in a recent study carried out on municipalities in Italy, which experienced compulsory parity (50%men/50% women) in municipal elections (before the system was ruled as being unconstitutional). The municipalities that had to adopt this system for their candidate lists saw an increase in the level and qualifications of their elected politicians compared with other municipalities.

But the first victims of such a jump in quality are the mediocre managers. Not only, but especially, those mediocre male managers. So it’s not surprising then that they diffuse an air of negativity regarding efforts that promote diversity, which is passed on by some women who prefer to show that they are with the “dominant” group and therefore don’t need support for the careers. Unfortunately too many women are not interested enough and therefore don’t understand the issues of equality and cannot therefore be in solidarity with the men and women who advocate a more diverse and inclusive leadership.

JUMP is, of course, keeping the fuchsia colour as a symbol because if pink becomes a “business colour” like black, grey or blue, that would signify that feminine values can be expressed more freely in the business world and many women would feel entitled to remain authentic. We are also keeping our logo, the woman jumping while carrying a briefcase, because in order to rebalance the genders in the workplace, women in particular, will have to make the biggest leap.

“Top management” has a significant role to play in this opposition of managers who feel threatened   by the increase in the quality of teams. Make your commitment known by submitting your application for the wo.men@work award (29 September).

JUMP doesn’t want a battle of the sexes at the office. Thinking in these terms only serves to perpetuate a model based on power struggles. And that’s a model that stems from patriarchy, which we should wipe out and replace with respectful and happy partnerships that lead to inclusive and better performing companies that can contribute to inclusive and sustainable society.