A recent discussion online and in the headlines this week has centred around whether employers must crack down on sports chat in the workplace because it ‘excludes women and encourages laddish behaviour’

After a comment made on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute, urged that companies should pay closer attention to the types of conversations employees engage in within the workplace and that a lot of women, in particular, feel left out, that they don’t follow those sports and they don’t like either being forced to talk about them or not being included. This has sparked an uproar and gained attention from the media opening up discussions and opinions on the topic. 

Many women took to social media in an aim to justify the implementing behaviour by publicly expressing their thoughts on the comments being incredibly sexist, and presumptuous that they wouldn’t be interested in football; and that it is offensive, forcing stereotypes upon women and that this would only alienate those with similar interests within the workplace. Companies should not dictate what people talk about but encourage their colleagues to engage in mutual interests and conversations as this has proven in the past to drive employees motivation to collaborate successfully with fellow colleagues. However being aware of your employees general happiness and inclusion within your team is crucial when it come to performance in the workplace. The comments from Ann Francke were compared to being almost as ridiculous as banning people with children talking about them so as not to alienate people without children. 

Chris Paouros from the Women’s Equality Party said, “The suggestion that sports chat excludes women assumes that women aren’t interested in talking about football, which reinforces gender stereotypes and simply isn’t true. If there are women or other groups who feel excluded by topics of conversation in a workplace, the problem is the organisational culture and most likely a lack of diversity within the organisation.” 

As women’s rights and our voices are being respected and dominating businesses and the workplace more, understanding how your employees feel within their working environment is imperitive. Anyone can feel like the ‘other’ in the workplace. This feeling can stem from a number of different factors, but is commonly a result of being separate from the majority because of characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality or common interests. This feeling of separation means that people may take on the status of an outsider: they are not truly embraced as part of the team, feel excluded from opportunities and subsequently may also take a step back and separate themselves further. If we feel this happening in our workplace environment we need to speak up. The most important thing that influences employee motivation and happiness, and how productive and efficient they can be, all comes down to the working environment. There is always room for different views, team loyalties and different interests altogether.  

What are your opinions on the matter? 



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