Men Advocating Real Change
Catalyst, a New York-based, not-for-profit organization promoting women in business, last week launched an online project called Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) to involve men in this conversation. It includes a community of male bloggers from around the world, although it doesn’t have a Canadian contributor yet. A few noteworthy executives have joined, including Michael Dell, founder and chief executive of Dell Inc.
“It’s a safe space for guys to ask questions without fears of embarrassment or looking like a sexist,” said MARC’s community manager Mike Otterman, who helped conceive of the project with Jeanine Prime, vice-president of research at Catalyst. One reason men may be reluctant to take part in the discourse may be that it challenges traditional perceptions of masculinity.
Dr. Prime, who has a doctorate in social psychology, suggests that the best way to frame the dialogue is to suggest that men who support gender equality are, by definition, strong men.“By creating a community of men who care about equality, we demonstrate explicitly that gender equality is an issue that real men think and care about,” she said.
Otterman explained how the organization’s research showed that when many men hear the word “gender,” they tune out, thinking it’s a women’s issue or that it’s just not for them. Prime explained, “We need to be working with men in a wider sense.” Not just senior men, she continued – the group wants to work with men at mid and emerging levels as well. “The leaders of tomorrow, we need to be engaging them,” she said.
In addition to hosting real world events, MARC is an online forum for men to talk about gender issues, share best practices and tools, and talk about how they can get involved in driving gender equity.
Prime said, “Our research showed that men are really swayed by other men – we really want to engage men to be ready to be advocates.”
Many men are uncomfortable talking about gender issues with friends and colleagues – but the website will provide conversation starters and the vocabulary that might be helpful for men working toward gender equity in the workplace. She continued, “Men who get it aren’t quite sure how to talk to friends – this way, they can say, ‘look at this.’”
Otterman explained, “We’re creating a vocabulary and we want to help leverage and amplify the good guys. One of our main messages is that it’s not enough to be a good guy and go about your day.”
“For some guys, there’s a fear of judgment. We want to make this mainstream.
Catalyst is launching its new social network for men, MARC (Men Advocating Real Change). Rather than excluding men from the diversity conversation, the organization realized it could get more traction around diversity by engaging men who can be champions of the movement.
Mike Otterman, Social Media Manager at Catalyst, explained how research showed that when many men hear the word “gender,” they tune out, thinking it’s a women’s issue or that it’s just not for them. Jeanine Prime, PhD, VP of Research at Catalyst, explained, “We need to be working with men in a wider sense.” Not just senior men, she continued – the group wants to work with men at mid and emerging levels as well. “The leaders of tomorrow, we need to be engaging them,” she said.