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“Banter”, men and consequences…

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Every year, on 9 March, the comedian Richard Herring spends International Women’s Day replying to every traumatised male who asks, on Twitter, why there isn’t an International Men’s Day. Check out Richard’s tweets; they are highly amusing. But the basis of his replies is the same. There is an International Men’s Day, and it’s this week, 19 November.

Being a professional comedian, he can put down the Twitter trolls far better than I ever could. So, I will use this blog to highlight an issue which those who hold forth on Twitter may not have given much thought to.

Male-dominated working environments

Yorkshire County Cricket Club has had a bad autumn. Their former player, Azeem Rafiq, has accused the club of institutional racism. Azeem was born in Pakistan, but moved to the UK, aged ten, and played for Yorkshire from 2008-14 and 2016-18.  One player used the “P” word towards him (confirmed) and another allegedly said there were too many players of Pakistani origin in the team (vehemently denied).

The cumulative effect of the behaviour Azeem suffered was, he says, sufficient to consider him taking his own life.

What does this tell us about men in the working environment? So many male-dominated workplaces are mired in banter. It can act to bond teammates together, but its effects can be insidious, corrosive, and destroy confidence. As we have seen from Azeem, it can also have a profound effect on mental health.

Seemingly striking by its absence, was any sense of those in authority “checking in” on the workplace culture Azeem was a part of. Did the team themselves set any boundaries of what was acceptable? Probably not.

It’s not just Yorkshire that’s had a problem. Former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain tells of a young Marcus Trescothick calling him out on the mickey-taking players were subjected to if they performed poorly. Hussain recognised the validity of the point and looked to change things. At least Trescothick felt enabled to challenge his captain. That appears to have been sadly absent at Yorkshire.

This highlights the value of the work Focal Point can do for your business, whether it’s male-dominated or not. What does a positive, collaborative, and empowering workplace look and feel like? What are the acceptable boundaries of behaviour? Do colleagues look out for each other, support them in times of need, recognise the signs of stress? Focal Point can help you create a culture that is positive and allows you to spot the warning signs of things going wrong.

So, on International Men’s Day, think about where you work and ask how comfortable you feel, and how conducive the environment is to creating a great team!

For more information on how Focal point can help to address inappropriate behaviour in the workplace please call us on 01903 732 782,  emailcontact us or take a look at how we have helped other organisations tackle behaviour which crosses the line.