- “Bro culture” occurs when men dominate the C-suite and create an environment that allows toxic behavior.
- Inequality in the workplace is everyone’s problem, but leadership has the responsibility to navigate and solve it.
- Here are some actionable ways to nip toxic gendered culture in the bud.
Every workplace and sector has its cliques and problematic groups. But recently tech companies have moved to the center of the “bro culture” conversation. These tech-based organizations are generally where men dominate the workforce.
What even is bro culture?
Essentially, “bro culture” occurs when men dominate the C-suite and create an environment that allows toxic behavior. Law firms and financial organizations have in the past been criticized for this culture.
This behavior can include excessive partying, crude language in the workplace, and the systemic harassment of coworkers. Alienation and harassment are a common outcome of this culture.
There are ways to mitigate general harassment and gender domination in the workplace
Inequality in the workplace is everyone’s problem, but it’s the responsibility of leadership to navigate and solve it.
Here’s a simple formula for keeping your work culture healthy:
- First, define your company culture during each person’s first day to set the precedent. This sets the tone for what is acceptable.
- Do not let small issues be excused, such as inappropriate gendered language or small jokey behaviors. What may seem like a joke can eventually become more serious, and should not be taken lightly.
- When an offense occurs, or the culture takes a bad turn, act swiftly to correct it. This will ensure the health and success of your company, as well as the happiness of your employees.
Toxic male work culture also impacts men.
Women aren’t the only victims in a workplace with rampant bro culture; men and nonbinary individuals suffer as well.
As an example, people may feel as though they have to go along with this toxic behavior that is occurring in order to impress their leaders and colleagues, even if it upsets them or makes them uncomfortable.
“It’s worth noting a lot of men, especially younger men, don’t subscribe to these values and behaviors, and they may also feel demotivated [and] marginalized in these environments,” according to Wendy Cukier, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Ryerson University.
In a Q&A we asked Lesley Bielby, co-CEO of DiMassimo Goldstein (DiGo), how workplaces can deal with a toxic bro culture.
Allwork.Space: What is workplace “bro culture?” What is the societal impact?
Bielby: “Bro culture” in the workplace is when certain groups of men (typically younger men) display self-indulgent macho behaviors, putting themselves and their success above all things, and showing little or no respect for others — in particular, women.
This can create a damaging imbalance in the workplace, where anyone who does not belong to their cohort has restricted opportunities to succeed and advance in their careers. It can also create a toxic and bullying environment that can take its toll on the emotional health of employees — again, in particular, women.
In addition, it prevents the introduction of new ideas and approaches to building the business, resulting in these men perpetually swirling in the echo chamber of their own egos and fixed ways of doing things.
Allwork.Space: How can workplaces help to end this type of toxic culture?
Bielby: “Bro culture” sadly prevails in the financial services sector, but there has been a depressingly large wave of new culprits emerging in what I would call ‘bro culture II’, as a result of more men entering Web3 industries such as technology, crypto and NFTs.
The only way to stop this in its tracks is for HR and the C-Suite to prove their commitment to DE&I by working hard to achieve a healthy balance of hires of different genders (and different ethnicities), and to practice zero tolerance of any sexist or bullying behaviors.