CMI: Men Must Use Their Voice to Achieve Gender Parity in the Workplace

Whilst professional bodies tend to perform slightly better than average when it comes to gender parity, we still have a while to go before equality is realised in our workplaces.

Bringing the sector one step closer to equality is the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) with their CMI Women initiative. We find out more from CMI’s Director of Strategy and External Affairs, Petra Wilton.

Diversity – Good for business

This year, we launched our Men as Role Models campaign to raise awareness of the need for men to champion gender parity in the workplace. What many organisations have yet to recognise is that diversity is good for business. Not only does diversity deliver better financial results, better culture, and better decision-making, but it is also good for the economy. According to McKinsey, bridging the gender pay gap in the UK by 2025 would add as much as £150bn to GDP.

Despite this, gender discrimination is still a problem in the workplace with recent CMI research revealing that 81% of managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination in the past 12 months. Our research shows that 50% of managers have witnessed gender bias in recruitment/promotion decisions, while 42% said they had seen inequality in pay and rewards in the last 12 months. According to our research, 75% of managers believe senior male leaders have a responsibility to support the career development of women.

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Earlier this year, we hosted an event which showcased senior male leaders from London Underground, PepsiCo, Sky, E.ON and the online investment platform, Nutmeg, who are making great strides in working towards a more balanced workforce and spoke about how it’s vital that men play a central role in delivering a gender-balanced workforce.

Mike Lewis, Chief Executive at E.ON Climate & Renewables, outlined how although the company hasn’t yet reached gender parity, they are on the right track with 28% of its senior executives being women. Lewis explained how the company has put clear goals in place to stamp our discrimination and encourage their female employees to rise up through the ranks.

“We have to confront people with the facts – that men still mostly hold senior positions in the workplace – and drive home the message until there is genuine balance,” says Lewis.

Bridging the gap

Research shows that rather than being branded ‘aggressive’ and ‘pushy’, most women simply put up and shut up. It’s for this reason that men at every level of management need to champion and support women to rise up through the ranks and get their fair shot at reaching the top.

Also speaking at the event, General Manager for Pepsico UK, Ian Ellington, described how the company has a well-established agenda for gender balance.

“We’ve made some reasonable progress – 40% of our management population now is female. We’ve reviewed the regulation, we’ve looked across our pay, we found we’ve got almost exact gender balance in our pay, which we actually were a little bit surprised to see,” says Ellington. In fact, it cost the company a mere £3,000 in adjusting two people’s pay to achieve gender pay equality – at a 4,500-employee company!

Another company leading by example is online investment platform Nutmeg, which has a proactive approach to diversity and flexible working. Women account for 40% of the company’s executive team, and CEO Martin Stead says he wants more. Fully aware of the rewards that can be reaped from a diverse and balanced leadership team, Stead’s aim is to build a team reflective of the company’s client base. At our Men as Role Models event, Stead explained how male staff are helping to make Nutmeg an attractive employer for women with two of the male executives working flexibly to accommodate childcare arrangements, showing it’s possible to balance a work and family life.

What next?

Men need to follow in the footsteps of people such as Mike Lewis, Ian Ellington and Martin Stead, be advocates for gender diversity, implement programmes for talented women, put women forward for promotion and offer flexible working. It’s not about being present, it’s about output and outcomes, and the sooner this is recognised, the sooner we’ll be on our way to closing the gender pay gap and benefitting from diverse leadership teams.

Women also have a role to play in bridging the gap and rebalancing male-dominated organisations by having a voice and putting themselves forward. Women need to showcase their potential, not wait for it to be recognised in a culture where men are very good at putting themselves out there and showcasing their own ability.

Employers still have a long way to go in recognising the value of gender balanced organisations and the business benefits this brings, but if there’s one thing we can learn from the likes of Sky and Nutmeg, it’s that men have to get involved if things are going to change.

For more information on the CMI Women campaign and to get involved, visit: or to share your guidance on gender parity visit CMI’s Blueprint for Balance:

Follow the conversation on Twitter @cmi_managers using the hashtag #cmiwomen

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