Empowering women to dance like no one is watching!
Mark.Freed / 01 Dec 2021
Mark shares his thoughts as a follow up to the previous blog, ‘Diversity is an invitation to a ball, inclusion is being asked to dance and equity is being able to dance as though no one is watching.’.
Last week, I shared the stories of three men, pictured above: Josh, Charlie and Joe, the organisers of ‘the ball’ and how they ‘arranged the ball’ with the D&I business case in their minds.
Each of these men’s actions focused on getting more women to the ball, they then trained and coached them to help the women to dance to men’s tunes. They considered little about making the playlist more inclusive or about changing the planned entertainment to improve the ‘lived experience of the women ball goers‘. Maybe that’s why the women did not stay on the dance floor or left the ball early?
However, this is not the end of our story. In the picture, our three men, Josh, Charlie and Joe, are all on their phones. Like the best Hollywood movies, they are taking life-changing calls that will have a profound impact on them and on the future of ‘the ball’.
The ‘Joy’ of inclusion and diversity
Josh’s caller is a black women called Joy, she is responding to the invitation to attend. Cutting the story, really short Josh and Joy meet, fall in love and marry in a whirlwind romance. Love opens Josh’s eyes to the lived experiences of women and in particular the additional barriers & challenges faced by black women. Joy helps him to see how his relative advantage and his actions, as a white man can affect others. Josh becomes an inclusionist. As a result, he changes his management style and works with his team to celebrate diversity and foster inclusion, thus creating better outcomes for all and a higher performing team. Josh is now happier at work. He experiences less stress and no longer suffers from that niggling recurring backpain.
For a future leader
Charlie’s caller is his daughter distraught that he has missed her birthday party. This is a wakeup call for Charlie. Until now, he has not been a good father or husband. He vows to change. Having accepted his apology and commitment to change his ways, his daughter confides in him that she would love to lead a major corporation, when she gets older. Charlie is inspired to become an inclusionist. His relationship with his wife and daughter improves, he is happier and healthier at home and work. He becomes more inclusive as a leader, seeks to improve outcomes for his team and as a result sees the level of performance grow.
Bringing your whole self to work
Joe’s caller is his wife. who is concerned about how he is feeling? She is calling to ask if he has told his work colleagues about his struggles? He hasn’t! Following her call, he decides to risk being more open with his colleagues. Joe has been hiding the fact that he didn’t attend a top public school like Charlie and Josh, rather a local comprehensive in an underprivileged area. Whilst enjoying wealth and success, Joe has never felt that he could be himself at work. This has affected his mental health and he has been going to counselling. That night, Joe plucks up the courage to tell his colleagues about his childhood and upbringing and immediately gains their respect. Joe becomes an inclusionist. Proud and free to share his real-life experiences and now supports others from underrepresented groups to achieve all they can in life. For the first time in his career, he feels comfortable to bring his whole self to work. He no longer needs counselling and is really enjoying sharing childcare and domestic responsibilities with his wife, a successful career woman, who recently got promoted, fulfilling her own personal ambitions.
All these three men have made life-changing decisions that have put them and the ball on a new, flourishing and sustainable course. Everyone is talking about the ball. They are queuing to get tickets. A mixed playlist ensures everyone joins in, everyone dances and everyone is free to contribute and everyone does. Diversity, Inclusion and Equity is not just a commercial success, it is fun, welcoming, inspiring, safe and stress-free.
What are Inclusionists?
At Men for Inclusion, we regularly see three types of Allies. When we first met Josh, Charlie, and Joe, they are active because they were doing this for a business case alone, progression was slow and the expectation was that everyone should dance to their tunes.
As a result of those life changing calls, Josh and Charlie have become more aware of their relative advantage. They recognise how their accidental actions can affect and create barriers for others. They are inspired by the women they interact with and seek to actively support them daily.
Free from his secret Joe, together with Josh and Charlie now recognise that the future of ‘the ball’ needs to be organised and run in a new way – an inclusive and equitable way. They have changed the way they lead, have become open and collaborative and, although they still make mistakes, they are open to being called out and corrected. They are now becoming inclusionists!
As the majority in the workplace, we as men, have the power and responsibility to champion women and others from underrepresented groups in the workplace. By doing so, we can realize the benefits for ourselves and those around us whilst understanding how our actions could either hinder or slow progress towards a more inclusive environment. The choice is ours! We hold the baton in our hand to make the choice to change behaviour that will create a better world for ourselves and those around us.
Join a growing group of inclusionists by becoming a member of Men for Inclusion. For more details contact Mark by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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