Sport banter in the workplace should be curtailed in order to make women feel more included, the Chartered Management Institute has advised.
Talking on BBC’s Today programme the institute’s head Ann Francke said chat about football or cricket can exclude women and lead to laddish behaviour.
Even chats about the merits of video assistant refereeing (VAR) could be inappropriate because it divides offices.
“A lot of women feel left out”
“A lot of women, in particular, feel left out,” Francke said.
“They don’t follow those sports and they don’t like either being forced to talk about them or not being included.”
“I have nothing against sports enthusiasts or cricket fans – that’s great.
“But the issue is many people aren’t cricket fans,” she added, arguing bosses should crack down on sports banter.
“Gateway to more laddish behaviour”
“It’s a gateway to more laddish behaviour 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 talk and chat to slapping each other on the back and talking about their conquests at the weekend.”
She said that good managers should be inclusive and ensure that everyone in their team feels comfortable.
But sports journalist Jacqui Oatley thinks cracking down on sports chatter would be a “terrible idea”.
“If you ban football chat or banter of any description, then all you’re going to do is alienate the people who actually want to communicate with each other,” she told the Today programme.
“It would be so, so negative to tell people not to talk about sport because girls don’t like it or women don’t like it, that’s far more divisive.”