Ann Francke, the head of the Chartered Management Institute, has called on firms to moderate the amount of football “banter” in the workplace.
Ms Francke told BBC’s Today programme that such talk can lead to “laddish behaviour” and “excludes women”. She went on to say, “It’s a gateway to more laddish behaviour and – if it just goes unchecked – it’s a signal of a more laddish culture,” and, “It’s very easy for it to escalate from VAR talk and chat to slapping each other on the back and talking about their conquests at the weekend.
Her comments appear to have universally gone down like a lead balloon with sports journalist Jacqui Oatley describing it as a “terrible idea” and former Sports and Culture Secretary Tracey Crouch calling it a “load of nonsense”.
Ms Francke’s comments appear to be misguided and have even attracted accusations of sexism as there appears to be an assumption on her part that women have no interest in football. With more women attending games live than ever and with the ever-growing women’s game attracting more and more attention, Ms Francke does not appear to have her fingers on the pulse.
In spite of whether one agrees with this view or not, the practicalities of applying such a ban or moderating such conversations is the likelihood that there would subsequently be calls other topics to be banned or moderated. Workforces are often diverse in their interests and conversation topics and it’s almost certain that a person wouldn’t be excluded at any particular point in time.
Employers, it seems, would be best advised to ignore the advice provided by Ms Francke and to implement policies based on their own experience of their employees, curtailing behaviours only if they do lead to particular problems.
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