Enough is Enough – What’s happening to our men?

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“The number of working women in the United States is about to surpass the number of working men. Three-quarters of the people who have lost jobs in the current recession are men” (Harvard Business Review September 2013),  yet women still earn on average 77 cents in the dollar to that of a man. On the surface these statistics seem like a great thing, and to a degree they are, but if women remain the bulk of the underpaid workforce and men remain the bulk of those in power, there will be even greater issues for women in the future.  As the article points out, many companies are still failing to provide the right products and services to women and these companies are the one’s who will suffer in the future because of women’s increased financial ability to consume and influence.

There are other issues for men when their working lives are impacted by long-term unemployment and these can include a loss of self-esteem, a loss of financial stability and general emotional insecurity.  This can be difficult for those men who were previously the breadwinner and may feel a loss of identity. The change in status for them in their home life and the way they think that they are perceived by the community can lead to depression and illness which will ultimately impact the economy.

There may be more severe impacts on society, particularity if some men start to see themselves negatively and begin to relate to women in a different way because of these feelings of inadequacy and fear.  Books like “Guys and Guns Amok, Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombing to the Virginia Tech Massacre” Kellner (2008), cite a ‘crisis of masculinity’ because men’s previously secure identities are now in question and a change in breadwinner status could lead to an increase in violence because some men can not cope with the change in their status.  Kellner says;

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One can only speculate how a major change in the status quo of gender balance of the workforce may impact society, but it is something that we need to understand quickly.  Kellner also believes that ‘white men fear losing their status as the dominant group’ (pg.; 93) because of globalisation and multi culturalism.  This combined with the increased agitation by women for their own equality, may push some men to violence when fear and insecurity turn to anger.  Kellner goes on to talk about ‘anti statism’, ‘anti politics’ and the increase in ‘militaria’, but we won’t continue on that vein in this discussion – suffice to say that there is fear out there in this current globalised economic climate where, particularly in America, women are now overtaking men in employment.

Added to the economic loss of employment for male Americans is the fact that the numbers of those incarcerated in the United States continues to rise, with the prison population rising from 744 thousand to 2.2 million between 1985 and 2002 (Giroux) alone.  In the United States a prison officer now earns more than a school teacher, and there are alarming numbers of young coloured American men permanently incarcerated.  What sort of message are we sending to young men?

Enough is enough! How do we fix this? Its up to each and everyone of us to Question, Question and Question some more and then demand transparency in our organisations to compare wages. We need to question government policy and create discourse that help to positively influence the way society thinks about work and gendered roles.

REFERENCES

Kellner, D (2008).  “Guys and guns amok: domestic terrorism and school shootings from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Virginia Tech massacre”,Paradigm Publishers, 01/01/2008

Giroux, H: http://www.henryagiroux.com/online_articles/class_casualties.htm

FURTHER READING

This great article in the Harvard Business Review spells it out http://hbr.org/2009/09/the-female-economy/es?goback=.gde_2306571_member_267262109

ABOUT THE AUTHOR SUSANNE MOORE

Susanne is the Founder and Chair of The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation™ and is credited with developing the emerging fields of Gender Economics and Diversity Economics. Now a Sociologist after a career in ICT and business, she has a focus on Gender, innovation and performance at an organisational level through her consulting. She brings a practical business experience coupled with academic rigour to her consulting practice around Gender Economics. An advocate for the advancement of women in leadership, she developed the Diversity Program Review Framework™ (DPRF™) in 2012, a diagnostic which measures both the program’s standalone effectiveness from a program management perspective, and assesses the viability of program’s data for further research in Diversity Economics and as input into organisational profitability and sustainability in creating the next generation of Business Transformation.

Susanne is passionately interested in equality, equity, truth and justice and how these attributes can improve business performance through transforming business ideologies and shifting traditional business paradigms.

She is an articulate, professional, entertaining and thought provoking speaker follow her @susannemoore or @gendereconomics

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About Gender Economics – changing the discourse

Gender Economics is the fusion of sociology, economics and gender studies and looks at shifting current perceptions of gender and how we use these perceptions in framing economic policy. Very often, it is an intersection of gender, values and beliefs that create policy decisions, many of which are based on outdated models. It is important that we start to understand how economic research is conducted, how the statistical analysis is created and how this flows into policy decisions and ultimately the business bottom line.

“Gender Economics is about “dissecting and creating a new discourse around economic theory that fuses Economics, Gender and Sociology”[1]

Think of a persistent organisational challenge and start to unpick it by looking at the assumptions and environments that created the challenge in the first place, chances are the core of the challenge has been created by imposing outdated business models, values and measurements that no longer work. Then reframe the challenge by applying new thought paradigms and you may very likely uncover innovations that lead to increases in performance. Traditional gender stereotypes have shifted and organisations can no longer assume that they are catering to the working heterosexual white male with a wife at home because the ground rules have changed. According to Wikipedia[2], the US LGBT consumer market in 2013 ‘is estimated to have an overall buying power of more than $835 billion’. This demonstrates that marketing to this group requires specialisation to reap the benefits of that economy.

Much of our business culture is centuries old from the structures to the drivers, and our organisations must change to keep pace with a global economy where diversity, and cross-cultural management enforce new skills around managing complexity.

In 2009, the Harvard Business Review[3] made the bold statement that “Women now drive the world economy”, and estimated that globally women will control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending over the next five years. Look at any social networking site or news stream and you will see articles that recognise that the financial empowerment of women is a game changer. Businesses must now attract talent from a wider pool, some from necessity, but many recognising that by developing a “Women’s Employer of Choice” reputation, it will ultimately help them increase their competitiveness in the market. However, it is not as simple as painting women’s issues with a ‘pink’ brush, organisations must understand the shifts that have taken place in gendered stereotypes and how this sociological change now affects business structures and changes in economic policy formation.

Gender Economics looks at how gender influences economic decisions and how those decisions impact gender. The way we target gender for economic gain or increased market share can either benefit or degrade the rights of marginalised groups, often leading to policy formation with an underlying gender bias overlaid with a view on how economics, policy and gender interact with society.

This emerging field challenges current economic theory, broadening the conversation to encompasses sociological complexities currently at play in society – ie: we look to deconstruct economic policy, reconstructing it in a manner that allows us to develop rational and objective tracks for further research.  Issues of female inequality have persisted for decades if not centuries and instead of talking about the issues, Gender Economics explores underneath the issue and provides new discourses that have the power to change the way we work and live. A simple example of Gender Economics and a persistent issue is the gender wage gap in Australia that continues regardless of the amount of effort and talk that goes on. In 1907 Australia passed a little known policy known as the “Harvester Judgement ”[4] that saw the start of the pay gap for women in preference to that of the ‘working family man’. This policy was introduced primarily to give organisations a competitive advantage using cheaper female labour. This precedent continues today with feminised work segments in organisations exploiting cheaper labour, focusing on scarcity instead of the abundance of leveraging that diversity through innovation[5].

Much of our business culture is centred on the concept of scarcity, of not enough to go around but where did this thinking process start? Staying competitive by having unique products that differentiate you from the rest of the marketplace can lead to a culture of aggressive competition and cost cutting. With more organisations becoming lean and agile what if the model moved from one of scarcity to one of ‘abundance’. What are the attributes of abundance, is it just a mind shift or can we create business models that promote it? Numerous studies of company board makeup show that the accepted female attributes of sharing and collaboration lead to a richer business environment and higher profits.

Gender Economics is the new Business Transformation, the next major resource, and will open a channel to increased innovation and creativity through Diversity of thought and the ability to maximise the management of our increasingly complex environments. Organisations that understand that gender balance is the new competitive edge will be better equipped in a global marketplace where women take their place at the decision table. An increased awareness of women’s economic impact at a country level and greater gender diversity at a company level means women are learning to invest in themselves and their financial future.

There are many persistent gender issue’s that just don’t seem to go away and this is particularly true in areas of gender inequality, and I feel that this is because we so often talk ‘around’ the issues instead of deconstructing them and understanding why they are issues in the first place. The next steps are to start unpicking current thinking on economics and business, start reframing our thinking, putting age-old issues into new contexts – that is Gender Economics at its core!

ABOUT SUSANNE MOORE

Susanne is the Founder and Chair of The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation and is credited with developing the emerging fields of Gender Economics and Diversity Economics. Now a Sociologist after a career in ICT and business, she has a focus on Gender, innovation and performance at an organisational level and as well as consulting, she is conducting a research project on ‘The Profit Impact of Organisational Gender Diversity programs”. She brings a practical business experience coupled with academic rigour to her consulting practice around Gender Economics. An advocate for the advancement of women in leadership, she developed the Diversity Program Review Framework (DPRF) in 2012, a diagnostic which measures both the program’s standalone effectiveness from a program management perspective, and assesses the viability of program’s data for further research in Diversity Economics and as input into organisational profitability and sustainability creating the next generation of Business Transformation.

Susanne is passionately interested in equality, equity, truth and justice and how these attributes can improve business performance through transforming business ideologies and shifting traditional business paradigms.

She is an articulate, professional, entertaining and thought provoking speaker follow her @susannemoore or @gendereconomics

This article, written by Susanne Moore was previously published by Global Merces Group Oct 2013.

REFERENCES

[1] Quote by Susanne Moore 2013

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_marketing#cite_note-1

[3] http://hbr.org/2009/09/the-female-economy/es

[4] MacIntyre, Stuart (1985) ‘A fair wage’ in Winners and Losers: The Pursuit of Social Justice in Australian History, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, Ch.3, pp. 51-58 (excerpt)

[5] Diversity Program Review Framework™, Susanne Moore (2012)