Select Page

If I said “strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness” were important in the business world, most folks would probably agree those are good traits to have. Wikipedia lists those traits as descriptors of masculinity “in Western society,” which makes more sense after they explain that “both males and females can exhibit masculine traits” (Wikipedia).

However we also know that “gender diverse teams” produce greater profit (Harvard 2013). I suspect teams comfortable with diversity can attract a wider pool of talent and ultimately be more profitable. Openness to varied and diverse problem solving strategies will likely produce better solutions.

In addition, healthy masculinity culture benefits men. Of all suicides in the United States in 2017, 70% were white men (AFSP 2017). It’s no secret that mental wellness is important to productivity at work. While I do teach workshops on self-care, I believe managing the stress depleting your team is just as important. If the culture of masculinity at work isn’t as healthy as it could be, tackling that white fragility and masculine fragility is crucial in a healthy work environment for everybody.

Peter Glick, professor of psychology at Lawrence University says “if you have a ‘dog eat dog’ competition going on in the organization, that I’m the winner,’ that zero-sum game – that’s the core of the contest, rather than committing to competition in the marketplace… it becomes so much a part of proving you’re the ‘man.’ That becomes the central thing.” CNN did an article on toxic masculinity at work here.

One side-effect of high performance cultures is often the encouragement to work overtime. This can back-fire for any hours worked past about 50 hours (Pencavel 2014, Figure 2). Scrum (an agile/lean methodology) advocates for no overtime hours worked over 40 hours a week and they cite research. Ultimately, overtime hours are usually expensive to employers and they wear employees down and make them less productive later in the week. In fact, there is a case study where managers could not tell the difference between employees working 80 hours per week and employees claiming to work 80 hours per week (Harvard Business Review) (Original Article).