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Gender equality and workplace culture



This month at HACSU, we're talking about issues impacting women at work. Every March we celebrate International Women's Day which provides us an opportunity to get these issues out into the open!

You might have heard the term ‘toxic masculinity’ before; you might not have. With the recent rise of the #metoo movement, culture in the workplace has finally come under the microscope. This means that issues that were once ignored and tolerated as “boys will be boys” are now being called out for what they are - sexism!

What is Toxic Masculinity?

According to the ABC, the term toxic masculinity “has become a catch-all to describe male feelings of entitlement, anger and vulnerability, and the urge to dominate and intimidate, through either overt or covert means” (Om, 2018). It is one way to describe a set of behaviours that occur in society that can be harmful and are traditionally perpetrated by men.

The sectors HACSU represent are dominated by women, particularly on the front line. Whilst often these workplaces can feel like a safer place for women, workplace culture can still perpetuate discrimination based on gender or sexuality.

A new Pixar short film titled ‘Purl’, tackles these issues head on by showing us what it’s like for people who don’t quite fit in to “bro” culture. Purl (who is assumed to identify as a woman) tries to participate in the workplace culture and is shunned for her difference. She tries to change to fit in but later, when another person like her joins the workplace, Purl learns that she can be a part of the change for the better.

With insight into the issues, Purl and her colleagues are empowered to create lasting change in their workplace culture to one that is more collaborative and tolerant and nobody feels excluded.

Whilst it isn’t always easy to change a toxic workplace culture, there are things we can all do to improve the environment for ourselves and others. Some things you can try are:

  • Being transparent and open
  • Reward valuable contributions and provide specific, genuine complements to others
  • Cultivate relationships across your office or worksite
  • Embrace difference
  • Work together as a team and talk about ideas in a collaborative way
  • Communicate purpose and passion

Don’t forget that you deserve to feel safe at work. If you’re ever feeling uncomfortable, talk to a trusted friend or contact HACSU Assist 1300 651 931.

HACSU’s Women’s Committee will be meeting soon to discuss matters impacting women in the workplace. For more information, contact