Beyond sharing research insights and some organizational practices, the morning was spent in sharing insights about obstacles to engaging men more in D&I initiatives, and practical tips on various dilemmas.
Some hurdles that were shared were similar to what Catalyst research has revealed before, such as fear of losing ground to women (‘zero sum game’ mentality) and fear of being blamed for historical inequities, as well as a general lack of awareness of men’s role in the business case for gender inclusion. In addition, some culturally nuanced barriers surfaced. For instance, some men hesitate in being visible champions of gender initiatives out of fear of being ascribed ulterior motives for relating to women. Others worry about the line between ‘protecting women’ and ‘denying developmental opportunities’ in the name of providing safety. Still others – especially proponents of meritocracy in organizations – worry about equating D&I work to ‘unfair quotas’.
A workshop activity in which groups discussed topics such as “Unequal Access to Networks”, “Gender Roles/Male Norms That Hurt Men and Women”, “Safety” and “Paternalistic Benevolence” provided rich ground for a nuanced, candid and informative sharing among participants.
At the end of the session, participants took back with them new knowledge and insights from research, from organizational practices (shared by Catalyst as well as by other member organizations in the room) and practical solutions and ‘Actions Men Can Take’, including becoming involved in MARC, the online community of male champions of gender inclusion.