Women miscommunicate with men about work-life balance because of the same reasons the sexes don’t see eye to eye on many topics: Men just don’t bring it up.
That’s the finding of a recent survey out by Citi of more than 1,000 male and female LinkedIn members. Nearly 80% of women surveyed said they have never heard a successful man talk about balancing work with home. Still, over half of men said they have heard other men engage in conversation about work-life balance. The survey shows that while men may not be open to discussing these challenges with women, they are struggling nonetheless.
“It’s clear from the findings that men need to be a bigger part of the work-life balance conversation – and that we could all benefit from more communication about a variety of career issues, from the way we promote our work to how much we think we’re worth,” said Linda Descano, head of content and social and North America marketing at Citi, and president and CEO of Women & Co., Citi’s personal finance resource for women.
The survey results come in the wake of a larger movement in America to move away from labeling work-life balance and other workplace dilemmas as “women’s issues.” Last month, comments made by actress and UN Women’s Ambassador Emma Watson about more men identifying as feminists spurred a viral campaign of its own to include men in the conversation. Also Anne-Marie Slaughter, the head of think tank New America Foundation and the author of the viral Atlantic story “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” said last week that the next phase of the women’s movement must be a men’s movement.
“We’re not going to get anywhere unless there’s a men’s movement,” Slaughter told the crowd at a St. Louis Business Journal event. “You can’t have half of a gender revolution.”
It turns out work-life balance may not be the only “women’s issue” that men are voicelessly concerned about as well. Most new dads are not vocal about the shortage of paternity leave offered in this country, but 80% of new dads in a recent Boston College study took an “informal” path to a paternity leave. In other words, they piece together a leave using vacation time and personal days without having to have a conversation with their boss about the new addition to their family.
“Even in many companies with formal policies allowing it, people worry it will make them look less dedicated or less serious about their careers,” Chris Duchesne, vice president at Care.com, told Fortune’s Anne Fisher.
There are a couple notable exceptions of men championing these issues as their own. In August, Max Schireson, the CEO of software company MongoDB, drew a huge crowd of followers after writing a blog post about stepping down in order to be a better dad. The same month, chairman and senior partner of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bob Moritz shared with Fortune his campaign to get more men at his firm to be more open about the issue.
“Women and men deal with this issue every day,” Moritz said. “A lot of the times, men just don’t express the dissatisfaction the same way.”
There is one key area when men seem to be communicating at work more than women: Self promotion. While 40% of women said in Citi’s survey that they are sufficiently promoting their work to senior execs, 50% of men said they are doing the same. Perhaps if more men started communicating their problems — as opposed to just their accomplishments — we’d get to the genderless workplace movement that so many are championing.