Twenty years ago, John Gray published a bestseller that discussed the binary split between Men and Women, a division that was allowed to reflect humanity’s biology and social constructs until very recently. Since the publication of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, our understanding of gender has almost been revolutionised from the reality of two sexes and genders to a spectrum of varieties, but our institutions and disciplines have not. Our socioeconomic structures are not so flexible, and it may take many decades to reach a consensus on sex and gender, if not equality.
Workplace relations is similarly slow to adapt to change mainly because it fails to have its own structure, instead piggybacking on business activity. Business has developed primarily from the male perspective to benefit men much more than women directly. Business reflects the gender roles of men and women both in job activities and power. The workplace relations subsets of Human Resources (HR) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) also reflect these binary practices and perhaps have the strongest long-term potential on the future of work.