Generations and gender: what does your workforce want?

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In late 2014, business author Avril Henry interviewed 91 successful women from ten countries and four generations, with the intention of uncovering their stories of unfair treatment based on gender.

The result was a blueprint for organisations and individuals who want to change the status quo when it comes to gender equality.

What can men do?

According to Henry, one of her most interesting finds was the differences between generations in terms of what women want men to do.

“Older, wiser women – the veterans and baby boomers who have seen and experienced much in the workplace – believe that senior male leaders need to be more courageous, changing the culture to be more gender-diversity friendly without being afraid of going against the flow.

“They believe that male leaders need to publicly reward those men and women who actively implement diversity, while taking timely, corrective action against those who discriminate against women and engage in sexual harassment and bullying at work.”

Generation X, meanwhile, felt that senior male leaders needed to simply ‘change their mindset and how they see women at work’.

Millennial participants in Henry’s study said that senior male leaders should promote more women.

“[Gen Y thought that] if you can’t do this they are almost certain to leave, and quickly, going to another organisation or setting up their own businesses,” Henry explained.

Different expectations

“Generation X are more sceptical [than Gen Y],” Henry told HRD.

“Although they would challenge me and say they are simply more realistic than the overly optimistic Generation Ys and accommodating baby boomers.

(Continued...)

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