We have produced a report which explores the pivotal role men in middle management positions can play in creating gender inclusive workplaces.

Key Facts

    • Our Professor of Leadership, Elisabeth Kelan, was awarded a prestigious British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (MD130085) to research the key role male middle managers can play in workplace equality.

    • Her report (Linchpin – men, middle managers and gender inclusive leadership) showed which practices men in middle management positions can adopt to create gender inclusive workplaces.

  • Funded by British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship.

Impact of our research

Men as middle managers can engage in four practices for change to happen in their organisations: celebrating and encouraging women; calling out biases; championing and defending gender initiatives to men and women; and challenging existing work practices.

Our research suggests that a good middle manager will coach, develop, mentor, sponsor and support the people they manage. However, the gender inclusive manager knows that these activities must encompass all people and not just people who are like them. Gender inclusive managers are also highly self-reflective; they consider their own impact on others, and ask for feedback from their team as well as senior leaders on how they can improve.

To create sustainable equality in the workplace, men as middle managers must adopt inclusive leadership practices. They will then form the linchpin that will allow the strategic vision for gender equal workplaces to become an everyday reality.

Why the research was commissioned

Men represent 70% of managers and leaders in organisations and have a major role to play to ensure that gender parity becomes a reality in organisations. They are vital to bring about the changes needed to the embedded systems and structures that can obstruct the progress of women.

It has been well documented that CEOs recognise equality as a strategic priority but the responsibility of men as middle managers as gender inclusive leaders had previously been largely ignored.

The research was funded by the British Academy due to its value to academia and practitioners.

Why Cranfield?

The research focus of the centre’s Director and report author, Professor Elisabeth Kelan, is on gender and leadership, generations in organisations, leadership and diversity and inclusion.

Her report drew on job shadowing and interviews with middle managers from a number of different organisations to document the everyday practices that often go unnoticed that are key to unlocking equality in organisations.