The pilot programme of the reverse mentoring scheme allows women in middle management roles at Dell to mentor some of the organisation's most senior men to give them an insight into the female perception of the world of work and the daily challenges faced.
The computer manufacturer took the initiative, following internal research finding there are certain aspects of leadership that do not come as naturally to women, and where they need some extra coaching.
Dell's male workforce is fully supportive of the organisation's gender and diversity programmes.
The programme helps men to understand the ways in which women approach their roles and to develop appreciation for their different styles of working. Sales, for example, is typically seen as a function more suited to male traits, but women have key selling skills that are often over-looked such as listening, collaboration and diplomacy.
The pilot has helped to remove some of these misunderstandings and, given Dell's male workforce, a greater appreciation of their female colleagues' skillsets. The firm calls this ‘inclusive leadership', and believes it will create a greater demand for feminine traits such as intuition, collaboration and empathy - while providing a more relevant culture for both genders to thrive.
Research from Catalyst suggests men have a huge role to play when it comes to addressing the gender imbalance. They must be engaged in gender diversity initiatives, understand the strengths women can bring to a workforce and be fully supportive of a change initiative.