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Reflecting On Men’s Role In DEI

Image for A reflection on International Mens Day and the importance of men’s roles in embracing and encouraging DE&I all year round.

I want to take a moment to highlight the important role that men should, can, and do play in encouraging Equity, embracing Diversity and supporting an Inclusive environment for all ('ED&I').

We are all members of the same species and as human beings we are better when we act together. I’m proud to be a man and I recognise my many privileges. I used to feel guilty of these but more recently I've come to realise that I can leverage these advantages to make a difference - in my own small way.

As a middle-aged, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, white man I can be viewed as the face of the problem. Fair enough - people like me have been the beneficiary of an explicit quota system designed by men and exclusively for men that has existed for hundreds of years. I am also part of the solution. Men have traditionally been left out, or feel that they cannot contribute fully, to the gender equality debate. Some men feel that the debate is working against them and that there is a zero-sum game i.e. to support progress of one gender, requires another gender to give up something. This is a shame and should not be the case. Us men win when we all win together. Us men want a more inclusive, equitable working environment for all and we will collectively reap the benefits. I salute those men that recognise this and encourage more of us to not just be a supportive bystander, but instead switch to a positive, proactive upstander on this (and the wider EDI) agenda.

And I implore those men who have yet embraced this mindset to do so - please be the best you can be and encourage better relations between all of us as citizens of the world. Let’s not shy aware from challenges that men also face - in Europe, for example, the suicide rate amongst men is 4 times that of women and the rate of male suicide has increased by over 25% in the last two decades. As men, we often suffer poor mental health and feel unable or unwilling to share our challenges. Yet, just as we can share the burden of equality, we can also share this burden of communication.

So let us step out of our traditional shadows and be our best selves, be the advocates and the change makers and be part of the solution. We will all benefit when we do.

Mark Fenton