Managers lack support to tackle bullying of women

Employers have been urged to invest more heavily in supporting managers if efforts to address diversity and gender equality in the workforce are to be realised.

A report due to be published tomorrow by campaigning organisation Opportunity Now reveals that only 59% of female managers and 74% of male managers feel they have sufficient training to handle instances of bullying and harassment of women in their team. And less than half (48%) of managers under the age of 29 feel equipped to deal with this.

The report, based on a survey of 800 line managers across both the public and private sectors, shows that managers recognise the benefits of having more women at all levels of the organisation, yet more than half (54%) believe their organisation is failing to make a proper business case for diversity.

Only 26% of managers report that diversity goals form part of their personal performance objectives and only 10% of managers link these goals with remuneration.

“If managers do not see the business case reflected in the behaviours and skills which an organisation values and the way in which performance is measured and monitored, then the business case risks being a paper-based exercise that makes little impression on managers,” the report says.

The report’s author, Judith Cherry, said employers should use qualitative and anecdotal evidence when presenting a business case. Examples include quoting how much it could cost a company that finds itself at an employment tribunal due to discrimination allegations.

Being a good manager in diversity, equality and flexible working should be recognised and rewarded, said Cherry.

Her report says that employers also need to improve communications. While the intranet is widely used as a way of communicating information about diversity policies to managers and others, it was ranked just fifth in terms of its usefulness by female managers. They said they preferred to draw on senior leaders and learning and development opportunities for support.

By Helen Gilbert

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