Blog

Creating more gender equitable and inclusive cultures is high on the agenda for many organisations. However there is often a disconnect between existing staff development activities and efforts to create the desired cultures. More explicitly linking individual development to organisational change can make a big difference to the return on investment when developing staff. The ‘bifocal approach’ translates this ideal into reality through clear principles and program design.

‘I don’t want to be mentored back into the straight line’

My title, ‘I don’t want to be mentored back into the straight line’, quoting a recent research participant, captures very succinctly a key difficulty with mentoring, and one that is almost entirely overlooked by mentoring practitioners and mentoring programs. I understood exactly what my interviewee meant, from both a research and practice perspective. Mentoring can inadvertently be used to help mentees to ‘fit in’, where mentors reinforce gendered norms and cultural stereotypes, teaching mentees to succeed the way they succeeded. 

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Lean In. You must be joking?

Sheryls Sandberg’s best selling book Lean In: Women. Work and the Will to Lead (2013) created a bit of a stir when it was first released, and the expression, ‘Lean In’ (at least for women) has moved into popular speech. 

My response differed from some of my feminist scholar colleagues, with their stinging critique. There are a few things about this book that I really liked. 

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Women undermining women and gender equality

Better behaved with male colleagues? While debriefing an experiential exercise in an all female leadership program, one woman suggested she would have behaved differently if men had been involved.

She would have treated men more seriously and with more respect. While hard to admit, this observation opened up a discussion about how they, as women, treated their female colleagues differently to men in the workplace. 

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Men and women as partners for change

In this blog, which follows on from my previous bolt 'What about the men?' I explore the difference between inviting men to be allies in the gender change work and being partners. As allies men are being asked to help make organisations better places for women. But this assumes that men have no gender, or at least that their gender is not problematic in the workplace.

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What about the men?

What about the men? I have heard this question asked in so many different ways. Men sometimes ask it, complaining they are being unfairly treated, missing out on something that is being offered to women, for example the opportunity to be matched with a senior mentor or participate in a leadership development program. Women on leadership programs often ask ‘what about the men?’ ‘Men need this too’, they say. Or ‘men need this more than we do, they are our bosses and they are the ones who need to change, not us’.

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The 'Bifocal approach': Linking individual development to organisational change

Creating more gender equitable and inclusive cultures is high on the agenda for many organisations. However there is often a disconnect between existing staff development activities and efforts to create the desired cultures. More explicitly linking individual development to organisational change can make a big difference to the return on investment when developing staff. The ‘bifocal approach’ translates this ideal into reality through clear principles and program design.

Read More