Men Who Feel Their Manager Is Open and That Their Voice Is Heard Are More Likely to Interrupt Workplace Sexism (Media Release)December 3, 2021
New Catalyst research on men in Europe finds 62% experiencing high levels of manager openness would likely interrupt sexist comments.
Zurich, Switzerland, December 3, 2021 — A new study from Catalyst shows that 62% of men who experience high levels of manager openness—feeling that their manager is open to hearing and considering their ideas—say that they would likely directly interrupt a sexist comment, compared to only 35% of men who report low levels of manager openness.
Additionally, the study of over 2,100 men in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom found 79% of men who experience high levels of manager openness also report feeling heard at high levels, compared to only 34% of men who experience low levels of manager openness.
This is important because the report, When Managers Are Open, Men Feel Heard and Interrupt Sexism, also found that 61% of men who feel more heard say that they would likely directly interrupt a sexist comment, compared to 35% of men who feel less heard.
There was some variation by country in the percentages reported above, but the pattern remained steady. For example, the percentages of men who say that they would likely directly interrupt a sexist comment based on their experiences of manager openness were:
- France: 69% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 34% with low levels of manager openness.
- Germany: 59% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 34% with low levels of manager openness.
- Italy: 66% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 28% with low levels of manager openness.
- Netherlands: 56% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 40% with low levels of manager openness.
- Sweden: 59% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 32% with low levels of manager openness.
- United Kingdom: 62% with high levels of manager openness, compared to 42% with low levels of manager openness.
Catalyst researchers Negin Sattari, PhD, Sarah DiMuccio, PhD, and MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) senior director Ludo Gabriele note that these findings highlight the unique position managers hold in contributing to a workplace culture where employees feel that their voices are welcome, even when directly challenging sexism.
“Managers who are open to employee ideas and, more broadly, workplaces that make employees feel as if they are heard in general can create environments in which men are encouraged to speak up in the face of sexist comments,” said Dr. Sattari. “These findings offer a positive strategy that organisations and leaders can promote to fight sexism.”
Because managers engage directly with employees—shaping employees’ understanding of how things are done, what is considered acceptable, and what is not—the research encourages managers to demonstrate openness by:
- Opening their eyes and ears: Making a conscious effort to find out who their employees are as complete humans with interests, obligations, and experiences outside of their work lives.
- Opening their hearts: Fostering humility and authenticity by valuing a growth mindset over perfectionism.
- Opening their minds: Not undervaluing “people skills”—content expertise may be an important aspect of job performance, but how work gets done should be as important as what gets done.
“This study highlights how crucial managers are in creating an environment where people feel safe to call out and interrupt sexism,” said Allyson Zimmermann, Catalyst Executive Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa. “The idea of openness may be new to some, but encouraging and implementing these practices will ultimately break the cycle of sexism in the workplace.”
Catalyst engages men leaders as role models and influencers for gender equity through its flagship program MARC (Men Advocating Real Change). Interrupting Sexism at Work is a research initiative from MARC exploring organisational conditions that encourage or discourage men from responding when they witness incidences of sexism in the workplace. This report is the fourth in the series.
Learn more. Read the full study here.
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Catalyst is a global nonprofit supported by many of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with preeminent thought leadership, actionable solutions, and a galvanized community of multinational corporations to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone.
Naomi R. Patton
Vice President, Global Communications
EMEA Communications Consultant