A theme of #internationalmensday this year is creating better relations between men and women at work. Sounds great, right?
My conversation this week, though, with a powerful, thoughtful colleague revealed a common block to positive gender relations. As we talked about how my work with men includes harassment prevention, he grimaced and said, "I've never gotten that whole thing. I've always treated women with respect. I just don't see it."
This is the big elephant in the room, isn't it? There is a great gulf between women's lived reality and men's _perceived_ reality. At least 38% of US women experience harassment at work and 95% of the time, the perpetrators go unpunished. Women know this. They live it, feel it, make personal and career decisions around this reality, and it affects their ability to rise, succeed, and lead.
Most men, though, are not perpetrators. Most men are not the target of harassment. Most men do not experience a hostile work environment. Our _perception_ is that everything is fine. And until we accept that our perception is not the whole reality, there will always be this gap in our relations with women at work. The perception gap will prevent men from being true allies and prevent women from feeling free and fully engaged at work.
This Men's Day, it's time for men to help other men widen their circle of understanding and perception to include women's experience. It will be uncomfortable... widening the circle includes taking in some painful new information. But if we want a really effective workplace and true equity, it's time to bridge the gap.
(And here's the secret, selfish reason to do the work... Men who are effective allies at work report more personal growth that helps them be better husbands, partners, and parents. Bonus.)
I invite men to follow social media accounts that talk about how men can make a difference. My go-to twitter follows in include:
I also invite you to join me on Clubhouse every Friday at noon EST to engage in a facilitated conversation with men who are practicing the courageous work of listening, speaking authentically, supporting each other and growing in to the best, most powerful versions of themselves.
Let's get this elephant out of the room and make room for a couch and a snack bar!
#workculturematters #mensmentalhealth #womenatwork
Charles Matheus grew up in an old mining town in Arizona. He managed to graduate from an Ivy League University and knows that you won't hold that against him.