The workplace of today is still engineered, in the most physical sense of the word, to favour male employees. A recent article in the Financial Times, Will women leaders change the future of management, makes the observation that the very design of a company’s physical workspace might be contributing to reasons why women find it harder to advance professionally.
The article cites the example of office temperatures, mostly set at levels that suit men better than women, which frequently produces a situation where “women [shiver] while men stretch out in T-shirts and shirtsleeves”.
However, “[these templates] laid down by and for very different people and conditions more than half a century ago [have] started to chafe”, writes journalist and author of the FT article, Simon Caulkin. Caulkin quotes London Business School’s Lynda Gratton, who identifies “institutional structures built round the male life cycle often still rule” as an abiding problem in the workplace. Positive changes are now taking place and in Professor Gratton’s latest book, Redesigning Work, a cri de cœur for a new wave of positive change taking place in the workplace as Covid releases its grip on the world, there is now an “unfreezing” of hitherto fixed practices and processes. “Everything is in play,” says Gratton.
Nigel Nicholson’s 2000 book, Executive Instinct: Managing the Human Animal in the Information Age, is also mentioned in the article, quoting the line, “the world of business organisations remains male [and white] in design, rationale and functioning”. Professor Gratton however confirms that in today’s working world millennials will not make sacrifices any more, placing offending companies at a real disadvantage in competing for the best talent.