'Questionable belief' | Manager resisting agenda to promote women says he is a 'non-feminist'

Manager resisting agenda to promote women says he is a 'non-feminist'

A manager at the UK’s Environment Agency has been scolded by a tribunal judge for being a self-proclaimed ‘non-feminist' and actively resisting his female boss’s attempt to promote women in the organisation.

Kevin Legge, a manager at the wildlife and sustainability institution, filed for discrimination as women were being promoted above men at the agency, and because feminism is a belief system he doesn’t believe in.

"He was not happy with the Department seeking to achieve more diversity and inclusivity within that Department, reflecting society and the people the Employment Agency represented. This was at odds with his non-feminist views,” the tribunal heard.

In response, however, the employment judge dismissed his claims saying Legge was in fact being discriminatory for having ‘genuinely’ believed in ‘non-feminism’ as an ideology.

The tribunal ruled that not agreeing with feminism, an ideology defined by a desire for equality between men and women, goes against an equal and diverse workplace and is not a perspective ‘worthy of respect’ or ‘compatible with human dignity’ and does conflict with the rights of others.

Openly having the views that there was an attempt to ‘remove men from management’ in the workplace could be a breach of equality laws, the tribunal suggested.

In a turn of events, the Environment Agency denied all allegations from Legge and said he had been dismissed after committing fraud for claiming a full-time salary and simultaneously working as a counsellor.

As a result, he had been ordered to pay £20,000 of the agency’s £106,000 legal costs for behaving unreasonably.

The employment judge said: “(We) were slightly perplexed by (Mr Legge's) philosophical belief being a non-feminist,' he said. 'It would appear to the Tribunal a feminist is simply about all genders having equal rights and opportunities as men.

“Something the Environmental Agency strived to achieve is an inclusive workforce and still maintaining the best candidate for the roles. It is an aspiration that the workforce fully reflects the diversity of the society it seeks to serve.”

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However, this can sometimes be met with anger from a disgruntled employee who feels positive action, whereby groups who have historically been marginalised are prioritised, is actually a regular form of discrimination.

In an average company, men account for 60% of all leadership positions, this is compared with 40% of women who occupy these roles. Clearly, more needs to be done to bring about equality in leadership positions.

Tamsin Jones, HR Director for Mars Wrigley UK, said: “In the world we want tomorrow, society is inclusive. Yet today we know that women face a range of barriers in reaching their full potential and there is a vital role businesses can play in providing solutions and implementing change. The world is rapidly changing, as are the barriers and needs of women and business leaders need to ensure that building a more inclusive future is a top priority.”

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