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The Design of everyday men

Updated: Jul 23

A New Lens for Gender Equality Progress


Hi there! My name is Jessica Zhang and I will be attending Unionville High School as a grade 12 student when school starts again. In the past few months, I have been working on professional industry case studies while learning about the world of consulting with Illuminate College and their National Partners. Here is an article I wrote based off a previous study by Deloitte “The Design of Everyday Men: A New Lens for Gender Equality Progress.”


In this article, I cover the following insights: Organizational cultures in the workforce, four common themes surrounding masculinity in the workforce, and the actions senior leaders must take as role models to help create a change.



"The time is now for business leaders to enable and encourage men to take an active part

in creating a more equal and inclusive future. If they do, organizations will be more

competitive, women will be more empowered, and men will be more fulfilled.” (Lawrence,

Arthrell, Calamai, and Morris, 6)



Workplace gender equality. Something that all workplaces strive for, but don’t realize

the root of their problem comes from the workplace itself.


The answer lies not within man himself, but the expectations that reinforce the

traditional masculinity that people expect to see within him, as well as the actions of

those above him. More often than not, there’s an expectation for people to act, think,

and feel a certain way. And in the workforce, it’s not much different. Organizational

cultures in the workforce place a demanding expectation on people to succeed. Men

still feel the pressure from our culture’s expectations, feeling constrained to the

relentless pursuit of status and success amongst their peers. These pressures prevent

them from opening up about their feelings and their affairs outside of work, as to not

seem “weak.”


Deloitte’s report “The Design of Everyday Men” researches the impact of organizational

and cultural expectations on men, as well as their masculinity within and outside of the

workplace. Based on the intensive ethnographic research conducted on 16 professional

men in, and around, the Greater Toronto Area, there are four common themes

surrounding masculinity in the workforce.


The first being the “it’s on me” theme. It places an immense amount of pressure on men

to handle responsibilities themselves. This corporate culture not only promotes

individualism but devalues collectivism where collaboration is vital. This also poses the

risk of overworking their employees due to the lack of equally shared responsibilities

and trust amongst peers. The second being the “I’m terrified” theme, where men who

fear failure choose to mask their insecurities by overcompensating and dawning a

hyper-competitive behaviour. The more ambitious the person gets, the more their

insecurities will drive them to reach unrealistic goals to outperform others while putting

their own performance at risk. The third theme, “I can’t turn to anyone,” causes

difficulties for men to turn to personal relationships and vulnerable interactions in

hopes of alleviating pressure and fear. This discourages vulnerability in the workplace

and causes people to build more barriers around themselves, leading to a lack of trust

between workers. The final theme being “show me it’s ok,” demonstrates how men will

look to leaders and those around them to determine what behaviours are acceptable

and what actions lead to status. Therefore, the importance of senior leaders and their

efforts as role-models are the first steps in seeing a change in their workers. Their roles

as not only supporters but also active participants are key factors to changing

organizational cultures surrounding a man’s masculinity.


The “always-on, always available” mindset at senior organization levels is an essential

component of the lack of gender equality. This mindset causes individuals to prioritize

work over family, personal commitments, and their own well-being in hopes of

producing results. This is not only a key factor in gender inequality but also increases

the number of women who are left to pick up the household and other non-work-related

responsibilities, stripping them of their opportunities in the workforce. Therefore a

leaders’ power and responsibility will be an essential role-model and influence when it

comes down to knowing which behaviours will lead to success. These leaders must be

setting good examples of achieving gender equality by doing three related actions.


Firstly, knowing that the “always-on, always available” mindset is a crucial factor of

gender inequality. Research shows that diminishing results, poorer interpersonal

communications, and impaired judgment to increased insurance costs and higher

employee turnover are all effects of working longer hours. Therefore having scheduled

and predictable schedules improve overall productivity and quality of the results.

Secondly, the importance of leaders reflecting on their own behaviours will also allow

them to understand the expectations they set on others for success. And finally, the

most crucial action leaders and organizations can take is to break down the barriers

holding back change, and welcome more gender equality. Things like revealing their

own vulnerabilities, checking up on the people who need it, and building learning and

development programs around life goals are reasonable first steps that leaders can

take.


Change must first begin at the root of the issue, otherwise, problems are bound to

occur once again. It is time for the business leaders of the world to take the first step in not only accepting gender equality in the workforce, but alleviating men of their traditional

masculinity pressures as well.

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