Chastened by the realities laid bare by the pandemic, a lot of companies are embracing fresh-start affirmations and promising newly enlightened, gentler, more equitable workplaces.
Let’s imagine we can take these pledges at face value. Perhaps leaders are finally tired of the dominant workplace model, what sociologists call “masculinity contest culture,” which rewards extreme confidence, the stamina to work long hours, dog-eat-dog competition, and the prioritization of work above all else, including family and friends. Or perhaps that they at least see that this type of culture is tiring other people out, even driving them to quit at record numbers.
If so, this could be an opening for a move in the exact opposite direction, toward a more relational culture. That’s how M. Gloria González-Morales, an organizational psychologist at Claremont Graduate University, describes her preferred framework when she is speaking to an audience of corporate executives. What she actually means, and often feels she can’t say in such environments, is that it’s time for feminism to become the leading organizing principle within companies.
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