I've always enjoyed tough gigs and talking to the blokes in firms about how their firm's D&I strategy benefits the whole firm (and, therefore, them) can feel a bit like trying to influence the turkeys as Christmas approaches. At least that's how I sense many of the (straight, white) men hear the messages. But it is absolutely critical that we engage the audience, that we get them to think about the world they're working and leading in; where 80% of consumer decisions and 59% of graduates are female. All of us need to think about what that means and what a successful organisation looks like in that world.
I've always thought that men who are thoughtful and can communicate are best placed to do this work. I'm just hoping that Obama doesn't decide to slope off into obscurity come January. His recent carefully worded and personal thoughts on being a feminist published in Glamour magazine (?) are just the sort of thing I think we'll miss from his successor. He talks eloquently about being ourselves and challenging ourselves to change, to create more equal relationships, about being boxed in by stereotypes and above all about our responsibility to fight sexism. When everyone's equal, we are all more free. I can hear the a turkeys saying 'but no-one gave me this job, I worked hard for it.' And, of course, he did. What Obama does so well is to focus on the opportunities.
As a convert to home working I also loved his comments about the 45 second commute allowing him to be present in his family.
We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women. We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.