"When men start acting as allies when nobody is looking, when men of their own volition call other men out, then the seeds will be sown for a truly inclusive culture. " - Ray Arata
Add Men To Focus Of Inclusive Culture Strategy To Win Talent War
The Gender Equality Ally Journey- Engaging Men At The Organizational Level
Companies that recognize the critical importance of an inclusive strategy that includes as part of its strategy an intentional focus on men will be the leaders and winners of the the current talent retention and attraction war. Furthermore, companies that inspire their executive management to lead from the heart and/or engage male allies will more likely create a culture where everyone can bring their whole selves to work.
Focus of Engaging Men To Advance Women At Work Was Met By The “Wall of Men”
Six years ago I started bringing attention to the importance of engaging men to advance women at a company level within the context of gender partnership. At that time the only people that were interested were the women and in particular, women’s employee resource groups along with the occasional diversity and inclusion or HR professional. Unfortunately, despite their initial enthusiasm as well as mine with respect to bringing work that focused on men as inclusionary leaders, they would go back into their organization and come face to face with the “wall of men” and the conversation was over before it started.
Much has changed since then in part due to the movements of #Metoo and #Times Up . Many of my current conversations with diversity and inclusion professionals start with a question or two; What is your current engaging men strategy? Are you including men as part of your inclusion efforts?
After a prolonged silence what I hear usually ranges from “we don't have an emphasis on men as we incorporate what we do with men in our diversity and inclusion strategy ”. I also hear “ we don’t want to do something just with the men because that might send the wrong message”.
White Men Often Feel Excluded When It Comes To Supporting Gender Equality Efforts At Work
What is now being voiced as well is, “ We are now hearing from our men, particularly the white men, that they feel excluded. “ What is particularly promising is that there are a number of men inside these organizations that want to be included, to be part of the solution, to be allies and partners. Millennial men are at the forefront of this shift.
The time has come for companies to put both intention and attention on the men in their organization if what they seek to create is a truly inclusive culture. For this to happen, there needs to be cognizance of the current environment as a result of #Metoo and #Times Up movements and the resulting backlash in corporate America.
Meeting men where they are at, giving them a chance to speak, address their fears and concerns so that they may transcend their fear is the first order of the day. Second and just as important is to replace outdated masculine norms that have historically driven male behaviors with healthy masculine ones.
More Companies Are Asking For Support In Showing Senior Men How To Be Gender Equality Allies
The questions that a growing number of companies are starting to ask range from, “can you come in and talk to our senior men”, to “can you support us in working with our middle managers, also known as the “frozen middle” to “can you come into our company and work with a mixed gender audience on what it means to be an ally?
The answer I respond with beyond a, “yes of course” is a follow on invitation that what is required is a commitment to a culture change that is inclusive of everyone, men included. What is also extremely important to recognize is that this commitment is all about a journey…the ally’s journey which is one of the topics I often discuss in my keynote speaking presentations to corporate leaders.
Companies That See Opportunity In Engaging Men vs. Waiting For Pain To Motivate Will Be Better For It
In my 19 years of men’s work I have come to recognize that when men consciously choose to be better men, that its not a one and done thing. Many companies don't want to hear that it's a process. I share with them that it’s a journey, not a destination. Pain, while often a primary motivator, doesn’t need to be. Companies that see the opportunity (and don’t wait for pain to motivate) of an engaging men strategy will be better for it.
This means that there needs to be a strategy that includes men at the top, men in the middle, and that women and marginalized groups are part of this culture shift as well. It is essential that senior men are engaged, both at the head and heart level. When middle managers see these men walking the talk, THAT is what they emulate.
When men start acting as allies when nobody is looking, when men of their own volition call other men out, then the seeds will be sown for a truly inclusive culture.
Founder of the Better Man Conference
Co-Founder, Inclusionary Leadership Group
Keynote Inclusionary Leadership Speaker at www.rayarata.com