Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace -- Ray Arata (Book Excerpt)

Future of Men
Cover image for  article: Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace -- Ray Arata (Book Excerpt)

In today’s climate, men consistently have a spotlight on them in the workplace to not just steer clear of controversy, but to also be an ally. In this Future of Men column, we share an excerpt from Ray Arata’s new book Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace on the expectations of men at work and what leadership qualities they should bring to the job. Hear Future of Men founder and author Jack Myers’ TEDWomen Talk on the Future of Men here.

SET TO WIN

The Me Too, Time's Up, and Black Lives Matter movements have created a perfect storm of bad behavior, largely due to men's toxic behavior. These movements were a long overdue response, as well as an outright refusal to tolerate this type of behavior. Men are on high alert: The spotlight is squarely focused on their behaviors, and we have already witnessed a number of "high profile" instances of men being fired, stepping down from leadership, and finding their careers ruined by their choices and behavior, as well as their abuse of power. Their careers were tarnished after social media exposed their actions. These very same men work inside companies and are often in leadership positions, thus posing a question for many organizations: Do we ignore, react, or take initiative? What is your position?

One thing is for sure: The underlying playbook of what it means to be man, and how it shows up in our roles as leaders, partners, spouses, and parents, needs a rewrite. The writing is on the wall. It's time for us individually and collectively to embrace healthy masculinity as a way of being, in our personal and business lives. Not only will those we care about benefit; we will, too. Company cultures that have a predominance of men in leadership are ripe for change. How you change just depends on what will motivate you to change.

Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines and publisher of Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and Town & Country, resigned in July 2020 due to allegations of sexual misconduct. For most companies in a situation like this, there isn't a playbook; they have to create one.

The Hearst Corporation is one example of how one man, through his misconduct, can create a wake-up call moment for the leadership of a company. How and if a company answers a wake-up call says a lot about them. How you or your company answers says a lot about you.

A "wake-up call" is a shock, surprise, or realization that causes you to become fully alert to what is happening in your life. It can also be thought of as a glimpse into a moment of truth, where you see that staying on your current trajectory and not changing only creates more pain. A wake-up call of this magnitude gives a company a snapshot of its culture and creates a choice point for moving forward.

Hearst chose to answer the wake-up call in a healthy masculine way.

iCrossing, a subsidiary of Hearst, hosted the 2018 Better Man Conference in the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan. When this all went down, they reached out to my company to address their culture issue head on. Their resulting commitment was to sponsor and send seventy senior executive male leaders to our fall 2020 virtual Better Man Conference as a kick-off event, to be followed by a training course on allyship with an emphasis on healthy masculinity. The men were eager to learn so that they could do their part and play a role in shifting their work culture.

This is just how one company responded. Organizations have been slow to initiate efforts to engage men as allies and inclusionary leaders until either they see business benefits or their hand is forced. It appears that the tide is changing for organizations, albeit slower than it should.

Some companies are making bold goals that require the engagement of men as allies and inclusionary leaders. The Intel Corporation, which has been a partner, client, and sponsor of the Better Man Conference over the years, made one of its goals for 2030 to increase the number of women in technical roles up to 40 percent. This, in essence, would double the number of women and traditionally excluded minorities in senior leadership. They recognize that in order to make this goal a reality, they must include men in their DEI efforts.

The wake-up calls just keep coming. I invite you to consider another wake-up call moment that has presented itself to you and the company you work for: COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.

LeanIn.org and the consulting company McKinsey conducted a 2020 Women in the Workplace study that looked at the pandemic's impact. According to its results,

Women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women -- especially women of color -- are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a "double shift -- a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible -- including school and childcare -- have been upended.

In December of 2020, largely due to the pandemic, 100 percent of jobs lost were held by women. In December 2020, women lost a total of 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to the National Women's Law Center: "Of the net 9.8 million jobs lost since February 2020, women's jobs have accounted for 55% of them."

As a result of these dynamics, more than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. This is an emergency for corporate America. Companies risk losing women in leadership -- future women leaders -- and thus unwinding years of painstaking progress toward gender diversity.

This business pain is real for many organizations. Is this happening at your company?

Personally, I seek to find the silver lining in challenging times. Amidst this crisis there is an opportunity. Do you see any silver linings? As a result of COVID-19, are you making adjustments in your leadership?

If organizations prioritize building a more flexible and empathetic workplace, they may be able to retain the employees most affected by today's crises -- women -- and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunities to achieve their potential over the long term. Men will need to develop their own ability to be empathic. This includes you!

You might be wondering: How is engaging men as allies and inclusionary leaders good for business? On a more personal note, how is it good for you?

The compelling reason for companies to engage men as allies centers around attracting, retaining, and hiring talent. Creating a culture of belonging wherein men are active allies increases the likelihood that people bring their whole selves to work, which increases overall effectiveness. Unless you have men on board and part of diversity and inclusion efforts, the status quo for men in charge will remain, and the lack of opportunities for those who don't identify as men will slowly erode a company's ability to be competitive.

HOW DO WE GET MEN ON BOARD?

Maybe you are a diversity and inclusion professional or head of a women's employee resource group (ERG). Maybe you have leadership responsibility in your organization and are reading this book for support in your role. I'm going to speak to you in your organizational capacity directly below; I encourage you also to read sections where I directly address the men who are reading this to better understand what's true for them.

Maybe you are an inspired male leader or a man who self-identifies as an ally, or you simply want to be one. Maybe your company bought this book and asked you to read it, or a woman colleague gave it to you. So that you may effectively engage yourself to be part of a culture change, it is imperative that you understand where you fit into the states of men as they currently exist in your company. I will speak to you as an individual.

WEARING THE ORGANIZATIONAL HAT

If you have an organizational responsibility (DEI, HR, Learning and Development), knowing the states of men in your company as well as barriers and impediments that many men face allows you to "walk in their shoes." This ultimately supports how you "meet them where they are."

A question you need to address: What influences the men in your organization and what limits or drives their behaviors? Both organizations and men must know the answer to this question so as to identify and offer the training men need to be allies and inclusionary leaders who support culture change. There are five areas to examine: social/political narratives (including racism and white supremacy), COVID-19, men not feeling the pain of others, man box behaviors, and power.

For those of you wearing an organizational hat, read the section below to better understand the states of men in your company.

If you are an individual, read this section to see which state you most identify with.

The States of Men

Over the years, I've heard men self-describe where they were with respect to equality, being an ally, and participating in their company's DEI efforts. I've listened to them share their current experiences, their frustrations, their aspirations, and more. From these anecdotes, I have categorized the states of men inside organizations.

Some men believe that their companies' DEI efforts threaten their jobs. These men, by virtue of their perception of DEI efforts as a threat, demonstrate how their privilege is invisible to them when they articulate that "their" job is threatened. My friend and colleague Michael Kimmel, an activist and author, says, "Privilege is invisible to those who have it." The key word indicating that point is "their"—as in, their job. It isn't their job; they don't have a preordained right to it over anyone else.

Organizational Guidance: Supporting these men to understand their own privilege by humanizing it, and to realize that with privilege comes responsibility as well as the opportunity to use it for good, is the approach to take. (Chapter four will explore privilege in great detail, along with exercises to support your learning.)

Some men don't feel included in their companies' DEI efforts.

Many companies have supported the establishment and maintenance of employee resource groups, creating communities inside companies for LGBTQIA+ folks, women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), disabled person/people, and neurodivergent people. There are very few companies that support or have ERGs for men. As a result, men who want to be part of a company's diversity efforts can join other ERGs and begin to learn about becoming an ally, but what this scenario doesn't do is center whiteness, nor does it create a sense of community for men. As a result, it doesn't fulfill men's desire to be more involved.

Organizational Guidance: Providing men with training that supports allyship, and encouraging men to start an ERG, is another option. This will be covered later in the book.

Lots of men are afraid to say or do the wrong thing, so they say and do nothing. This is largely how many men feel currently. They are the bystanders. They are complicit.

Organizational Guidance: These men need training, as well as other leaders inside their own organizations, to be models of allyship and inclusion. This will be covered later in the book.

Some men want to be part of the solution but don't know what to do or say. These are the men you want to activate and build with.

Organizational Guidance: These men need training and can be used to build momentum inside companies to legitimize allyship training. I often suggest that DEI professionals focus on this group of men first. They are eager and are usually willing to bring along other men.

A few select men are already acting like allies and already understand. These men are the ones who get it. They don't need training because they already act like allies and inclusionary leaders. These guys attend other ERG events, often sponsor events in an executive capacity, and sometimes mentor women.

Organizational Guidance: Where these guys are needed is in the strategy of enrolling other men. I encourage companies that are considering training or participating in the Better Man Conference to "stand up" these types of leaders in front of their workforce, supporting training efforts with the idea that other men will see, respect, and follow these men.

Knowing these factions of men is helpful. Behavioral change requires a deeper look and an understanding of what is currently driving men's behavior.

AREAS WORTH YOUR ATTENTION

The numerous influences that impact men are detailed below. For those in an organizational capacity, consider this section a broad overview. For the men reading this, consider this an opportunity to take a personal and honest inventory of yourself. I will speak specifically in each section with a question or two for you to consider.

Understanding the Impact of the Current Social and Political Narrative

Start by examining the optics for most men—where their levels of cognizance and curiosity and willingness to address their own behavior are at—with respect to the current social and political narrative. This includes racism and sexism.

Empowered by social media and its immediate transparency in support of these movements, employees are demanding cultures of inclusion with opportunity for all. Any missteps by men or the organizations they work for are immediately spotlighted.

This has been a necessary and unfortunate part of the narrative that has also left, in its wake, many men unsure of how to act or deal with past transgressions. Lacking a clear path to healing on their way to being a better man and leader, many men function as bystanders and stay silent.

There will always be the few bad apples, and until more men stand up and put themselves on the path of being allies, the inaction of the majority is what we need to focus on. That inaction is part of the problem, not just the actions of the few. Tony Porter, founder of A Call to Men, puts it best when he asks: "Why is it that we, as men, allow the 'few' to control the overall narrative of men? Why can't we, as men, collectively and in unison rewrite the narrative and do away with violence, abuse, and the lack of equality when it comes to women?"

Even those who are willing to take accountability for past actions before being spotlighted, in their efforts to be a better man, pay big prices for coming forward, but not nearly as big as the price paid by those who are harmed.

From Super Size Me to Downsize Me

I had the opportunity to meet Morgan Spurlock, director of the award-winning documentary Super Size Me, when I was in New York for the Better Man Conference in 2018. I had been introduced to him by a male colleague who had shared with me that Morgan was looking for some guidance on how to move forward as a better man. He was ready to take accountability for his past behaviors.

Morgan had shared with me, and also publicly, that he had a moment of clarity/crisis of confidence. Without thinking about it, he wrote a blog post admitting sexual misconduct in his past, including cheating on his past wives as well as settling a sexual harassment allegation.

For Morgan, the consequences were severe. His production company went from sixty-five people to less than five in a matter of weeks; his second documentary following Super Size Me was pulled. Despite this, he maintained a good attitude and was determined to move forward.

I share this story to highlight that taking accountability for one's past transgressions is the road less traveled, and with it comes consequences that few men are willing to take on. Morgan took the risk, paid a price, and most importantly, he sought a path to learn and be better.

In no way am I condoning his behaviors; I'm simply illustrating that most men choose to stay silent for fear of annihilation rather than take accountability and face consequences. This has to change, or we will never progress from where we are today.

Countless stories in the media reinforce the lack of a middle ground. There needs to be some path of healing; that path has yet to be illuminated. While this story may not resonate personally, I invite you to examine for yourself: What risks are you willing to take to be an ally, despite your past?

Men: Maybe you presently understand that some behaviors in your past likely impacted another person negatively; you might feel bad about something you did and it's important to process.

What's most important to process is that you now have awareness of how your actions may have hurt another person. Notice any emotions that might come up. I will address in a future chapter how to effectively respond to these emotions instead of impulsively reacting -- or worse yet, stuffing them down.

At this point, there is only one obvious choice of action: to put yourself on the path of becoming an aware and awake ally in all that you say and do. In the end, it's less about what you did and more about who you choose to be going forward. I am going to assume positive intent on your behalf -- that this is why you are reading this book!

Understanding the Impact of COVID-19

With the movements of Time's Up, Me Too, and Black Lives Matter gaining ground, COVID-19 entered the picture and drastically forced the issue of men stepping up at home and work. For a moment, let's look through a heteronormative lens: COVID-19 has spotlighted many areas that traditionally fall on the shoulders of women. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, supervising their children's distance learning while working their own job that may or may not have an understanding boss or manager. It is simply too much for one parent to undertake. If there was ever a time to put aside gendered home responsibilities, it's now, under the new conditions of remote work that COVID-19 largely introduced to our lives. Maybe you have already made adjustments at home; if that's the case, then you are ready to look for opportunities to step up and contribute in the workplace.

I want to acknowledge that COVID-19 has affected everyone's life at home: those in same-gender partnerships, those with and without children, those living alone, and those in limited opportunity families. Regardless, everyone needs to chip in and be supportive.

The pandemic's effect on business and personal life has been> to call men forward to re-evaluate outdated and gendered norms of behavior at home and work. The way forward is to recognize that being allies, partners, and leaders is not just good for women, but for men as well.

Getting real in times of crisis

On day one of shelter in place, I was on a video call with my partners. I looked through the screen and saw faces of pain. As a matter of practice, we as partners routinely do a check-in to start our meetings.

A check-in is an opportunity to look inward, check how I'm feeling, acknowledge what's challenging me . . . to get real and to share it with others. This does several things: It allows me to share where I am at by speaking my truth, to be heard and not judged by others, and for others to do the same. This fosters the necessary connection that we need to work well together.

On this twelfth day in March of 2020, each of us had some difficult truths to share. They were heavy truths. An idea and question popped into my head: Why shouldn't leaders in companies have the opportunity to use this technology?

Aren't they going through the same thing we are? I bet command and control is very tempting, that there is a lot of fear present with not much humanity. I wondered if leaders would be interested in participating in a live Zoom call that would provide space for them to get the benefit of what we were regularly experiencing.

I reached out to several men at companies like Oracle, Intel, and Genentech. I shared my idea and I immediately got responses. One of them shared with me that command and control blew up in his face at home: he had cried twice and would definitely be interested in attending.

Over 125 people showed up to our first call, validating my intuition that more men than ever are ready to step on the path of becoming inclusive leaders and allies. We put people in small breakout rooms and created the space for them to "get real," be introspective, and ground themselves so they could do that with others.

Leader/Organizational Guidance: Leaders can encourage candid conversations because tending to the business of being human allows people to tend to business. Organizations can promote a conversation series.

We Don't Feel the Pain

When it comes to equity, belonging, and inclusion, most women and people of marginalized groups would be able to share quite clearly the challenges they routinely face, in their personal lives and work lives, just for being who they are. That is because it is their lived experience.

They could illuminate what these challenges cost them, whether it be their personal or professional relationships, job opportunities, financial success, and even their own health and well-being. Women and people of underrepresented groups would likely share that they are tired (exhausted, actually), stressed, resigned, sad, afraid, and angry. To hear and understand that this is their experience is to acknowledge their pain.

Often, white men are unaware of the challenges, frustrations, and the short- and long-term impacts that these individuals face everyday of their lives -- because it's not their lived experience. These same people might well be our friends, work colleagues, family members. Through the optics of a white man, the often-subconscious observation is that "All of this is happening around men but not to men." As for BIPOC men and gay men, this may not be the case.

If we aren't being denied opportunities based on our gender and our identities, or not having to work twice as hard to adhere to a double standard simply because of who we are, then it doesn't get our attention -- because it's not happening to us. And this certainly is not an excuse. We're simply not experiencing the pain.

Guidance: One way to get men engaged as allies is to bring to their attention the experiences of people who don't look like them or who are different to evoke some empathy. What follows is an example of an effective training strategy we use inside companies.

Presencing the real-life experiences of others

In my work engaging men as allies and inclusionary leaders, I've witnessed time and time again that when I bring to men's attention (without shame or blame) what is happening to the women they work with -- that the women are having an entirely different experience than they are, under the same roof -- it often comes as a surprise.

The power of senior leadership vulnerability

In the fall of 2018, my partner and I were hired to deliver a training to the male leaders of a well-known global newsroom. We initiated the process by interviewing three women and three men, to get a pulse of the then-current working environment. Each interview was slated for one hour.

Calls with the men each concluded after twenty minutes. Their perspective of the workplace culture was that the men were open to change for the right reasons; that it was a good, diverse workplace (though things could always be better); and that the environment felt equal and open -- merit-based.

Calls with the women went the full hour. What we heard was very different.

We heard:

•Women are set up to fail -- they are given difficult assignments with insufficient support, and if it doesn't work, they're gone. Men in the same situation get support and resources.

•Women need to be perfect to get a shot, and then they get training. Men can be less than perfect and get staff and support rather than training.

When we shared our findings with the diversity leaders who hired us, they wanted us to not include the slide we had appropriately titled, "The tale of two companies. (That's not what happened.) When you start on your journey, I ask that you allow all the feedback to be listened to. To not allow a form of complicity to take place.

But when we showed the slide to the editor in chief, he insisted on keeping the slide as part of the presentation. In addition, he stood up in front of a room full of mostly men and made clear that this was not the kind of newsroom culture he wanted to see or be part of. He shared that he, too, had things to learn, that he made mistakes, and that he had not been as aware as he would have liked. He pledged to do more and committed to changing his behavior.

When a male leader stands up in front of a room of men, admits his own failings, takes accountability for what happens on his watch, and publicly commits to be better, it's a powerful model to emulate and follow for the men in the room. It also sends the message to the women that men are capable of making the transition to be more inclusive.

Organizational Guidance: Senior leaders must play a very strategic and important role in activating the men inside their organization. Identify that senior male leader who is willing to stand up in front of other men, be vulnerable, own his mistakes, and share his reason for why being an ally and inclusive leader is important to him as well as to the company.

The newsroom's editor in chief took ownership of the work environment that was in place on his watch and made it clear that he would do his part in changing the current culture to be more inclusive.

This is another step in the right direction to get men engaged, but it still falls short of what is required at a personal level for men to "activate" and get on board.

Empathy activated

When he finished, the room was eerily quiet. The looks on men's faces were contrite, surprised, and questioning. We invited them to share their responses to what they heard and many of them said, "I had no idea," "what can I do," "this is not ok with me," and other variations on these three common responses.

For these men, their ability to empathize started with the journey from their heads to their hearts -- when they were able to hear and connect to the experiences of others in their own newsroom. We subsequently were hired to bring the same training to their UK office.

Organizational Guidance: Bringing live and tangible experiences of the women in your organization, without shame or blame, makes it real for men. Second, and of equal importance, is to present instances of racism. When men are presented with this information -- that their actions and inactions, language, and decisions are behind the experiences of the women and people of color they work with -- most men want to be better. This is an experience to build upon.

Outdated Notions of Masculinity and the Influence of Man Box Behaviors

There exists an unofficial playbook of what it means to be a man, handed down from prior generations. Men before us -- our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, teachers, coaches, and society at large -- adapted, accepted, and modeled this playbook.

It's not consciously talked about; it's just always been so, with many people paying the price of unhealthy masculinity.

Women, too, accepted and encouraged these behaviors for a variety of reasons. It was what they saw and experienced, and they didn't feel they had a voice or a choice to reject these unhealthy versions of masculinity.

Times have changed: Women have spoken up and organized themselves, and more and more men want to be on the right side of change, with healthy masculinity leading the way. In order to pave the way for a healthy rewrite of what it means to be a man, we must first understand the man box. Unpacking these drivers is a necessary component that paves the way for healthy masculine leadership.

Understanding the man box and its evolution

Writer and activist Paul Kivel's Act Like a Man Box refers to a narrowly defined set of traditional rules for being a man. These rules are enforced through shaming and bullying, as well as promises of rewards, the purpose of which is to force conformity to our dominant culture of masculinity -- and to perpetuate the exploitation, domination, and marginalization of women and people who are queer, genderqueer, and transgender.

In the early 1980s, Kivel and others at the Oakland Men's Project gave birth to this powerful central pillar of men's work. They developed Act Like a Man Box in their work with adolescents in public schools around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1992, Kivel documented their workshop process in his book Men's Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart. It was here that Kivel published his Act Like a Man Box workshop, graphics, and everything we have come to define around the term.

In the mid-1990s, A Call to Men founder Tony Porter was doing men's work in Rockland County, New York, as well as serving as the director of an alcohol and drug treatment program at Nyack Hospital. At that time, local service organization Volunteer Counseling Services invited Paul Kivel to speak. Porter states it was then that he first heard the phrase "act like a man box."

Over time, Porter, who was working with populations of men in penitentiaries and other challenging spaces, determined that the "Act Like a Man Box" language would not work with these populations. In 2010, Porter recorded his TED Talk titled "A Call to Men," which to date has been viewed over 2,600,000 times on the TED site alone. Porter drove the man box into global public awareness and made Kivel's pioneering work into a household term. In 2019, I invited Tony Porter and Mark Greene, former senior contributing editor to the Good Men Project and author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men, to present at the Better Man Conference in New York City (hosted by Moody's). These man box behaviors were running rampant in corporate cultures, and many of them were negatively influencing leadershipbehaviors. The audience loved the material, and we have incorporated it into our workshops.

What are some of these unwritten, yet subscribed to, rules?

  1. Real men don't show their emotions, but anger is okay.
  2. Real men are always confident. (We won't show you our insecurities or admit we don't know.)
  3. Real men don't ask for help.
  4. Real men make all the decisions.
  5. Real men are providers, not caregivers.
  6. Real men are heterosexual and sexually dominant.
  7. Real men continuously talk and play sports.
  8. Real men are never handicapped, disabled, or unemployed.

Mark Greene has said, "Men and women deserve better than a masculine culture of dominance which churns out broken men." He's right. Maintaining the idea of stoicism over emotionality is, without question, the most hurtful result of the man box. When men seeking to be allies and inclusionary leaders don't express themselves emotionally, not only does it discourage others from being authentically human, it also severely limits their capacity for creating authentic relationships, leading effectively, and more.

Power: The Elephant in the Room

In addition to the aforementioned impediments that leave men reluctant to engage as allies and leaders, there is another potential reason for their reluctance: power. Men are accustomed to the power that comes with leadership. Giving up that power, or even simply the idea of giving it up, may give men pause. For some men, the idea of sharing leadership and thus affording others access to leadership positions is a perceived loss of power.

Why not come at it from a different angle? Power can be used to include, as opposed to exclude. Power can be used to support and advance others. Let's shift the zero-sum thinking of "if you win, I must lose," to "we both can win."

The impact of the Black Lives Matter movement

With senseless killings of Black people by police occurring around the country, and 2020's summer of activism in response, the topic of racism (that was always there and now can't be ignored) has made its way into corporate America's leadership ranks and board rooms -- and it isn't leaving anytime soon. These experiences are painful; if there is to be healing and inclusivity inside companies, male leaders must learn to apply the same techniques taught in this book to combat not only sexism but racism, as well.

A QUICK LOOK BACK

The current wake-up call companies and men are hearing in the workplace is the demand for behavioral changes that can, and will, positively affect cultures of inclusion. There is a lot at stake for companies to consider: the effect of COVID-19 on women in their organizations, the hiring and retaining of people who belong to marginalized groups, and the growing need to engage more men in diversity and inclusion efforts. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement has rightfully led companies to address racism along with sexism.

To understand how organizations can effectively engage men as allies and inclusive leaders, we've looked at what men are facing personally as a result of the current social and political narrative, and what challenges COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement have presented. This is just the exterior. We have also illuminated man box rules that currently drive many male behaviors. Just as important is understanding that men don't initially connect to the pain of exclusion unless it's happening to them, which necessitates presencing the pain of others so as to evoke empathy. Finally, we offer a reframe of power from zero-sum thinking to win-win.

Healthy Masculinity as a Feature, Not an Option

With a better understanding of how unhealthy masculinity plays out and often interferes with men engaging as allies and inclusionary leaders to support cultures of inclusion, there is an opportunity to "rewrite the playbook" on what it means to be a man in our roles as leaders, fathers, partners, husbands, and colleagues.

While healthy masculinity may vary slightly for each individual, I offer the following for all of us to consider aspiring to. Healthy masculinity might look like:

•Men showing, sharing, and experiencing their emotions.

•Men admitting to themselves and others that it's okay not to have the answer, that we "don't know" and we are okay saying that.

•Men asking for help, without making up a story that this means we "aren't manly."

•Men seeking contributions from others in making decisions.

•Men caring for others.

•Knowing that being a man has nothing to do with our sexual orientation, and that we don't need to be sexually dominant to prove our manhood.

•Recognizing that men with disabilities are men.

•Believing that our job (or lack of one) doesn't define us as men.

It's up to you to decide which of these, if not all of them, can be considered in your own evolving sense of being a man. Regardless, these rewritten healthy masculinity attributes are available for you as you see fit. So, if you are ready, there are some simple steps you can take right now to start your journey.

ABOUT RAY
Ray Arata is an award-winning leader in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), specifically known for his work in engaging men as allies. In addition to amassing more than 13,000 hours leading workshops for men, Ray is the founder of the Better Man Conference. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant and trainer, delivering keynotes and facilitating trainings for massive global clients such as PwC, Toyota, Genentech, Verizon, Bloomberg and many more.

Order Ray Arata's book Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace.

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