With International Men’s day just passed, the timing of this last short post in the “beyond the buzz” series is very lucky. The big trend of “engaging men in women’s issues” is interesting and deserves a deeper look. But this subject deserves a reframe in 3 other key questions:
- Why should men be concerned by equality issues?
- Why does feminine values in corporate culture concern men?
- Why do women need men onboard this culture shift?
Read the answers below:
1. Because it concerns half of the population which includes your loved ones too!
On this issue of equality, I will be brief as I leave it to the experts who have done the research, looked at the figures, and can pinpoint all the areas where work is needed. My perspective on the subject is more about mindset, and looking at this issue at a micro level: loving and appreciating your mother, your wife, your partner, your daughter, your girlfriend, your female colleagues means you wish them well, you wish they can fulfill their dreams, they have the same rights as you, because you love and appreciate them as they are and wish they can express themselves in life and at work. So think of equality as showing love and appreciation to the women in your life, not a fight to see who’s on top!
Engaging men in women’s issues is not a war, it starts with love, continues as a discussion and progresses with concrete actions.
2. Because you need these feminine values too!
Especially recently I have heard a lot of people wanting to stop the polarity “feminine / masculine” as it seems to oppose women to men. In principle I would agree, but in real life, the unbalance of feminine vs masculine values in corporate cultures is not only detrimental to women but to men too, if only they would realize it.
In this recent exchange within linkedin community, the subject of men’s mental health is starting to get more attention, and I believe it is long overdue.
If I’m such a strong advocate for the spread of feminine values in corporate cultures, it is because I know, from research and experience, that feminine practices have positive impact on employees’ mental health. Mainly because it start by acknowledging our vulnerabilities and creating supportive communities where we don’t have to pretend to be superhero’s.
Asking for and getting the support you need does NOT make you weak, on the contrary it shows how self-aware, humble and courageous you are. If you don’t believe me have a look at Brené Brown’s research on the subject of courage and vulnerability. Also showing vulnerability is the foundation for creating trust and a strong bond in a team, like illustrated in the work of Patrick Lencioni.
So yes “feminine values” are good for everyone, not just women!
3. Because men are already in places of power
Engaging men in rebalancing the corporate culture is not about men going to war to save women. Please.
First, because there are more men in positions of power globally, they have the opportunity to influence corporate life, processes, what is valued in organisations, how people are treated, etc. So if they become aware of not only why feminine values are key for their business to thrive in uncertain times but also for themselves (see point 2), they are already in the right place to initiate change.
Secondly, as visible actors of corporate life, leaders are role models for other men and women in their organisation and beyond. So by visibly embodying their feminine side they encourage other leaders, managers, and employees to have the courage to do the same. They are able to help level up both women and men in the organisation by creating favorable spaces for everyone to embody what is currently called “feminine” such as empathy, nurturing, learning from failure, collaborating, etc… .
Thirdly, men represent also 50% of the population, so by embracing their feminine values they help create a critical mass, and that’s when real shifts happen.
Rebalancing corporate cultures is critical. It is about creating balanced environments where men and women can thrive, collaborate, express themselves, and contribute in their own unique way to collective performances. And we need everybody onboard!