Male colleagues discussing sports in the workplace create an unwelcoming environment for women, according to a ‘gender balance expert’ who believes the practice should be curbed by employers.
Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, claims sports banter makes many women feel excluded and that it can devolve into sexually explicit conversation.
“A lot of women, in particular, feel left out. They don’t follow those sports and they don’t like either being forced to talk about them or not being included,” Francke told the BBC. “I have nothing against sports enthusiasts or cricket fans – that’s great. But the issue is many people aren’t cricket fans.”
“It’s a gateway to more laddish behavior and – if it just goes unchecked – it’s a signal of a more laddish culture.”
“It’s very easy for it to escalate from VAR (video assistant refereeing) talk and chat, to slapping each other on the back and talking about their conquests at the weekend,” she said.
Up early to speak with @dominicoc on @BBCr4today about how excessive sports banter at work or before meetings can make people-especially women- and some men- feel excluded and be a sign of a more laddish culture. Do you agree? pic.twitter.com/LhSNtaTHX9
— Ann Francke OBE (@cmi_ceo) January 27, 2020
Francke’s comments drew a wave of ridicule on social media, with Piers Morgan calling her suggestions “utter twaddle.”
“We’ve got to stop these virtue-signalling cretins sucking all the fun out of life,” Morgan tweeted.
What utter twaddle.
We’ve got to stop these virtue-signalling cretins sucking all the fun out of life. https://t.co/9JVWwgnwyC
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 27, 2020
Many netizens pointed out that women often in engage in similar conversations about reality TV and celebrity gossip, and also that many women also enjoy sports.
Francke’s author biography describes her as an “expert on gender balance in the workplace.” She has written a book on the subject and has held senior executive positions at Mars, BSI, Boots, and Yell.
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