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Employers must combat outdated masculinity stereotypes

Research released to coincide with International Men's Day (19 November) finds that lack of inclusive policies and attitudes creates challenges for men in the workplace

Workplaces are not doing enough to promote progressive attitudes around masculinity, according to research from The Hobbs Consultancy and Utopia.

Half (49%) of the 2,000 workers surveyed said their employer does nothing to promote inclusivity in the workplace, which leads to progressive modern ideals like earning less than female partners and sharing parental duties being less accessible for men, researchers said.

One in five men (21%) said their employers actively discourage them from taking on parenting duties that may affect their work, while just 11% reported that their boss is comfortable with them taking unexpected days off due to child sickness.

The research warned that this is contributing to harmful stereotypes around masculinity at work. Seven in 10 (71%) felt the need to be the main financial provider for their family, yet almost half (46%) claim it’s now also their responsibility to be the primary carer for their children.

Non-executive directors are the most affected, with around one in five (17%) feeling they can’t take time off work for family emergencies such as sick children without being looked down on. This compares to just 3% of founders and 8% of team members with no managerial duties.

Daniele Fiandaca, co-founder of Utopia, said that tackling assumptions around how men should behave at and approach work would benefit everyone. “Recent focus has been on the changes that women need to make to fit into a masculine workplace, when we should be focusing on creating more inclusive workplaces that work for all genders," he said.

“Traditional masculine traits are still hindering modern businesses, and this research shows why we need to continue to build workplace cultures that are more effective and more inclusive for everyone.”

Roxanne Hobbs, founder of The Hobbs Consultancy, added that workplaces must strive to create work/life balance for all genders.

“It’s integral that everyone is able to be their authentic selves at work. The fact that men now feel they can’t balance their careers with their families is worrying. The world is changed via conversation, and until the conversation about men and family happens men will continue to be dragged down by a system that’s inclusive in name only," she said.

“We want to create a culture in which being a male leader is synonymous with courageous vulnerability, caregiving, empathy and balanced mental health. We simply cannot talk about creating a difference with gender in the workplace without including men and making masculinity part of that discussion.”

There are six objectives of International Men's Day: focusing on men's and boys' health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, highlighting discrimination against men, and promoting male role models.