- Men are far from immune from the effects of toxic masculinity, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reported, citing 94 psychological studies with 27,000 participants. In a similar way that women are penalized for being assertive, ambitious and confident, or in short, behaving more like men, men are punished for showing vulnerability, being nicer and generally displaying more empathy, HBR said.
- Men are chastised for asking for help, for example, which reportedly makes them appear less competent, confident and capable. Studies showed that men are paid 18% less when they're viewed as warm, agreeable, caring and sympathetic. Although women get credit for being empathetic — an invaluable leadership skill, HBR noted — men do not. When men cry at work, they're considered to be low performers compared to men that exhibit stoicism. Additionally, self-effacing men are considered by hiring managers to be less competent and less hirable.
- To stop penalizing men for good behavior, HBR advises employers to celebrate men's positive actions; train women and men in how gender stereotypes negatively impact both groups and expectations for how they should behave; and avoid "gender policing" by imposing gender-based norms on workers' behavior or appearance.
The people normally targeted during diversity and inclusion efforts tend to be those from various protected classes: women, people of color, religious groups and people with disabilities, along with members of the LGBT community. The HBR report makes clear, however, that a truly inclusive and open workplace can go a long way to help all workers, including men.
The way people are socialized accounts for much of their attitudes and perceptions about themselves and others and plays into biases that can have a real effect on workplace function, ranging from recruitment to leadership preparation. Many recruiters still tend to hire people like themselves when it comes to gender and ethnicity, a Namely report showed. For example, 80% of men in the study worked with a male boss, while more than 50% of women reported to other women.
Employers won't be able to undo all the attitudes and perceptions people impose on others, but they can set expectations of performance and conduct and address stereotypes. Unconscious bias training is a good place to start, but it can only take employers so far. Managers have to remain consistently aware of the effects of bias, be mindful of how it affects their thoughts and deliberately expose themselves to other cultures in order to truly begin to combat its effects.