This article first appeared in Investment Week, 7th November, 2018
In all this talk about diversity there is one group that is not being mentioned unless it is being demonised - the White Guy.
We have, dare I say, ‘token' senior white males shining a light on equality and championing the benefits of diversity. But then, you have the silent majority who are getting on with their day job and who have been side-lined and villainised for a situation created unconsciously by no single person, but from years of apathy and acceptance of the status quo.
So how do you include and engage positively with a group that has been branded as ‘Stale Pale Male'? A group who may not recognise their privileged position in society and feel their career progression is now being unfairly threatened. Ironically, you do it in the same way you make the talent pool more diverse - change company culture and highlight role models.
There is no formula on how to change your company culture so all your employees feel their work environment is inclusive and where every employee works for the betterment of the bottom line, their colleagues and society. Company culture has often evolved over decades, shaped by employment policies and working practices so it is unrealistic to expect to see that change overnight, particularly when you need your entire workforce to challenge their core biases and beliefs.
But a little bit like parenting, if you set out a zero-tolerance policy for negative attitudes and reward good conduct, you will start to see a revolution in behaviour that is eventually just seen as normal. Key performance indicators are an effective way to ensure everyone feels included in the change.
Our biases and views are shaped by our personal identity and life experiences; role models play a huge part in how people behave, what they think is acceptable and when they will step out of their comfort zone. Professional white men are currently going through an identity crisis. They are now publicly expected to be supportive husbands to career women and hands-on dads. So, we need trailblazing role models. Men who openly work dynamically and flexibly, take parental leave and embrace all that is positive about the diversity movement - not just a few senior leaders that are seen as the advantaged exception not the rule.
On 19 November it will be International Men's Day. A day that promotes gender equality as well as a time to reflect on the positive aspects of male identity - that males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping. And I will certainly be celebrating this with the same fervour as International Women's Day on 8 March.
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