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Women at work face challenges in multiple forms and a boy club culture definitely ranks as one of the top reasons for a hostile work environment for female employees.
In 2017, Vice co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi said in a statement that the company had taken action over “multiple instances of unacceptable behavior”. This was in reference to the “boy club culture” which created a hostile work environment for the women at work. However, Vice is not the only culprit in creating hostile work environments for women. On March 20, the employees at Nike heard the message from the top executives, “we need to change.”
Mad Men, the popular TV series, provides an excellent insight into how boy clubs form and how they exclude women at work places. The modern workplace was designed around the idea that men would be the breadwinners while women would be stay at home moms. As such, it is not difficult to understand how workplaces end up promoting a culture that more often than not excludes women at work.
Boy clubs are exclusionary by their very nature as they often create male camaraderie by relying on sexist humour and female objectification. They are usually found in start-ups where the college mentality of “bro code” is carried onwards or when male employees bond together and offer solidarity through an informal social network via shared interests, a common past or maybe even something as small as locker room talk.
Women at work are often at the receiving end of the spillover from the power grabbing that occurs on account of this toxic work environment. Controlling access to important jobs or even the opportunity to have your voice heard can make all the difference. By denying important roles to women at work and creating structures that function and thrive on such seclusion creates a hostile work environment for the women at work.
It is often noticed that most women at work places face harassment in situations where they find it difficult to report the challenges faced by them. Recruitment consultancies such as Randstand understand women at work and the challenges they face. They report that most women at work see their career path negatively affected by withheld promotions or even resignations due to a hostile work environment.
Senior women leadership can prevent such boy clubs at work places by setting policies and ensuring that they are followed. By ensuring that policy guidelines are followed, employees face the ultimatum of reforming or exiting the company if their behaviour is not in line with the company’s expectations. Women also need to speak up and give regular feedbacks and form solidarity within their own groups. Opening up spaces for women at work allows them an avenue to address their issues and more importantly, to give them a voice within the work places.
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I may look sleepy, but I'm pretty wide awake. Feminist techie. Haunts the library.
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