Blokey banter is on its way out!
- Date: Thursday 21st November 2019
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Watching TV shows set in the 70s or 80s will remind you of how it used to be: calendars of naked ladies on the walls, elaborate ‘inductions’ that saw male apprentices being publicly humiliated and the majority of women in the workplace were written off as the ‘office wench’ and frequently subjected to sexist comments and actions.
The introduction of the Equality Act 2010 marked a new era, by not only promoting a higher level of general consideration but actively forcing employers to promote and enforce non-discriminatory practices in the workplace.
But, of course, there is the theory … and then there is real life. And most of us would not want to work in a banter-free environment. But where is the line? At what point does banter turn into harassment?
At the core of this issue lies social conditioning, not so much how we enforce the law. What is and isn’t acceptable depends in our experience largely on the culture of the organisation, the industry sector they operate in and of course also the regional differences in terms of humour that can seem funny to some, but unsavoury to others.
Recent research suggests though, that these social behaviours are now starting to shift.
46% of men now report that they are not only a financial provider but also the primary carer to their children. As such, the male focus is shifting from having to display dominance in the workplace, to multitasking and having to adapt their approach. Sexist comments are no longer encouraged, considering that 28% of men feel that their employers do not sufficiently support workplace flexibility when it comes to childcare.
Organisations like The Mankind Project support the notion of men getting in touch with their masculinity, without feeling forced to exhibit the stereotypes of being dismissive, aggressive and out of touch with their emotions. Instead, the new movement encourages men to embrace compassion and vulnerability and to realise that they can be accepting and supportive without asserting control and appearing invincible.
As a result of this, we are seeing a better understanding of the struggles both sexes go through in- and outside of work, and consequently banter is slowly changing.
Do we still have a long way to go? Yes.
Are we going in the right direction? Absolutely!
Source: Manuela Grossmann