"If we're not intentionally inclusive, we are unintentionally exclusive"

How men play a key role in the diversity and inclusion conversation

Progress does not happen in a vacuum; it happens when we all work together. Whether it be the #Metoo movement or championing LGBTQ rights, the change has been seen more widely and effectively when all voices participate in the conversation and challenge the status quo. Often businesses see diversity and inclusion as an ‘add on’ – something that only affects a small percentage of a company’s workforce. But, diversity and inclusion affect all and needs to be integrated into a company’s DNA.

But how do we make that happen? By challenging everyone to view themselves as objects of change. At HLB, we challenge our leaders to think about their own unconscious bias when it comes to diversity and inclusion and how this might affect not only their abilities to lead the firms of the future, but their business’s bottom line. In honour of International Men’s Day, we explore how men play a key role in the diversity and inclusion conversation.

Every voice matters

When we talk about diversity, often the first thing the comes to mind is ethnic background. But diversity comes in different shapes and sizes and what we really want to achieve is a diverse mindset as an organisation. That means including people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences at all levels to enable us to enhance our own decision making. In the professional services industry, white males are predominately in leadership functions. And many don’t see themselves as part of the diversity and inclusion conversation. This is a common misconception. Every person represents a different dimension of the diversity conversation and we each bring a unique and valuable perspective. Men play a vital role in this area, they just may not realise that their contribution matters and has importance.

Kim Drumgo, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants agrees. “I intentionally put men, especially white men, on my diversity councils and in my diversity meetings because I want to hear what they’re thinking. I want their input. I want to hear what push back is going to happen, or when the penny drops and they say ‘that was the message I needed to hear’. That’s why I think it’s important to have them on board.”

Become allies

As well as sharing their insights, another way men can participate in the diversity and inclusion conversation is by becoming allies.

“My very first mentor was my boss. Without him taking me underneath his wing, I wouldn’t have had all the opportunities that I have. So, it’s important to have men as allies, to bring people along and almost become a sponsor. Becoming allies help others get into the roles that they are in, so that we can continue to build that base of diversity.” Teresa Richardson, Partner and Chief Talent Officer at HLB USA, New York

In many ways this can help shift the culture of an organisation for the better. It opens doors for people that may not have had those opportunities initially and it broadens the horizon of all those involved. Now it may seem that becoming an ally means that we are expecting men to remove a seat from the table. Far from it, what being allies mean is focusing more on expanding the table. This can only be a positive thing as it expands people’s views and what they can realise in terms of their long-term goals.

Discovering the leaders of tomorrow

More and more, today’s consumers are choosing brands that fit their personal values. The same can be said of today’s workforce. A recent study concluded that 47% of millennials said that diversity and inclusion was important when looking for a new job. With talent attraction such a top concern for today’s global businesses, it’s important that businesses look at how diverse their workforce is. So, what role can men play in this?

“Men need to take a leadership role to promote positive change. Being such a dominant group in the workforce, especially in the case of the top management positions, if the message and actions come from us, then it is more likely going to be listened to and the example set. Men must see themselves as part of the solution.” Marco Donzelli, CEO of HLB

And it is only through actions such as acknowledging your unconscious bias and becoming an ally in the conversation will we start to see a change happen within not only our profession, but on a wider scale. By adopting a diversity and inclusion mindset individually, we can incorporate it into everything that we do.

Adding value

As we celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities, we challenge you to bring that to the diversity and inclusion conversation.

“I would say that men shouldn’t underestimate their role in diversity and inclusion. Don’t think just because of how you look that you’re excluded. Ultimately, this is a conversation about inclusion. So, men need to be at the table as allies but also as diverse individuals with valid insights.” Kim Drumgo, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

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