Millennial men are more closely aligned with women than older men on workplace gender issues, as well as the steps that can be taken to address them, according to “How Millennial Men Can Help Break the Glass Ceiling,” a study released by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
BCG research shows that compared with older men, men under 40 can better identify the most significant challenges women face in the workplace. In contrast to 15% of men over 40, 26% of younger men reported retention as a major barrier for women. Among women respondents of all ages, 36% cited retention as a barrier.
When asked to rank the importance of 39 different diversity initiatives, men under 40—including those who were not parents themselves—ranked on-site childcare and parental leave in their top six overall, much higher (a difference of ten places in the rankings) than men over 40 and much closer to women of all ages.
“These findings provide company leadership with crucial proof that gender equality is not just a women’s issue” says Matt Krentz, a senior partner at BCG and a coauthor of the report. “With these insights, companies can enlist younger men as part of the solution, implementing initiatives that help them support workplace equality, increase retention of women, and ultimately, improve corporate financial performance.”
A generational shift in mindsets
When asked to identify the measure that their company should implement next, men under 40 ranked work-life balance measures such as flexible work as the top priority, in line with women respondents. In contrast, older male respondents ranked leadership transparency and commitment as the company’s top priority, suggesting that there has been a generational shift in mindsets around balancing work and life.
Moreover, nearly three-quarters of men under 40 reported a greater willingness to change their behaviors to accommodate coworkers with flexible work schedules, and they were keen to undergo bias reduction training.
“Younger men today are more attuned to fairness in the workplace and are looking for a different way of working relative to their predecessors,” says Katie Abouzahr, a principal at BCG and a coauthor of the report. “These insights offer an opportunity for companies attempting to create a progressive work environment to differentiate themselves and gain an edge in recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent.”
Four imperatives for leaders
The study outlines measures that leaders should take to help improve gender equality in the workplace:
- Ensure that the company’s flexible-work policies are open to both men and women.
- Consider creating a support network for all employees with young children.
- Make the business case for diversity clear to older men.
- Once these measures are in place, build them into the recruiting strategy.