diversity, gender, Inclusion, male allies, masculinities, stereotyping

Why we need white male allies to fight for diversity – repost!

This fantastic piece from Mike Dillon at PWC showcases the importance of diversity efforts that include EVERYONE, especially white male allies who are so often excluded from diversity strategies. It’s also worth noting that not including men in diversity efforts places all the responsibility for leading these strategies on women and minorities, who are already facing challenges in the workplace including discrimination and bias.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-we-need-white-male-allies-fight-diversity-inclusion-mike-dillon/

A couple weeks back, I served as a panelist at The Better Man Conference, an annual event in the San Francisco Bay Area focused on engaging men in conversations around inclusionary leadership for women and minorities. On stage, I was joined by a diverse group of fellow panelists: Dr. Ronald Copeland of Kaiser Permanente, Nadia Chargualaf of Telestra, Lesley Slaton-Brown of HP, and Dale Thomas Vaughn of the Gender Leadership Group.

To my surprise, during the Q&A session, an audience member raised her hand and asked me, “As a white man, why are you on this panel? Why do you care about diversity?”

I didn’t see it coming. I felt her comment seemed to question my credentials as PwC’s Chief Diversity Officer. Almost as a reflex I responded by saying: “As an out gay man, I understand exclusion because of my sexual orientation.”

But as I thought more and more about my response, I realized that it shouldn’t matter if I was gay or not. I shouldn’t have to be part of a minority or underrepresented group to care about diversity and inclusion. And if anything, we should want more straight white men to be allies and to be engaged in discussions about diversity and inclusion.

Indeed, everyone should strive to learn from the experiences of those who are different from us. And the more allies we can make by having open dialogues and conversations with each other, the more impact we can truly have.

By engaging in conversations with those who are different from us, we are able to challenge assumptions and break down unconscious biases. This is an important first step in becoming allies and supporting others — which includes speaking up for them, giving them opportunities to speak for themselves, and listening and learning from their unique experiences and perspectives.

As a white male, who is a partner at a major firm like PwC, I am able to use my political capital to advocate for diversity and inclusion in Corporate America. That’s why I am always committed to being an ally for others, to elevating conversations around D&I, and to giving underrepresented and minority groups platforms to be heard. One great example of how we’re doing this at PwC is our HeForShe Ally Champion Network, where we educate both our male and female staff members to come together to support global gender parity.

When fighting for greater inclusion, we have to remember that it takes everyone’s involvement to really make societal change happen. As journalist and immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas reminds us, “You don’t have to be gay to fight for LGBT rights, you don’t have to be an immigrant to fight for immigrant rights, you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist.” As Vargas rightly points out, equality is a two-way street, “my equality is tied to your equality.”

This all brings me back to why having conversations about diversity and inclusion at work is so important. These conversations can be uncomfortable for everyone (white, black, brown, gay, straight, cis, transgender, male, female, etc.). You don’t want to misspeak or ask a question that might offend someone. But it’s important that we build the trust that is needed to have these conversations so we can move forward toward greater diversity and inclusion as allies. I’m proud that at PwC, we haven’t been afraid to have these conversations because we know it is a first step to bringing allyship into the workplace and hopefully beyond.

Mike Dillon

Standard
gender, media, stereotyping, violence against women, Women's rights

Bad Ads

It seems like lately there are more and more incidences of advertisements ‘going wrong’ in objectifying ways. Take a look at these two recent examples —

Bud Light thought this was a good advertising catchphrase:

bud light

‘the perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night’ #upforwhatever

And recently a public transport authority in Wales came out with this winner:

ride me

‘Ride me all day long for 3 pounds’

You have to wonder at the approval process for these ads, and why didn’t anyone say at some point ‘hold on, this might be a horrible thing to say’.

Although these adverts are awful, the negative reaction it drew from audiences who were quick to mobilize against these brands are a reason to celebrate. From the flood of emails and tweets aimed at NAT, which prompted them to remove this ad from all their buses, to the John Oliver segment on Last Week Tonight literally ‘taking the piss’ out of Bud Light.

This leaves me optimistic. The general public knows objectification and sexual violence innuendo when it sees it, and we’re not afraid to call people out on this. Advertising executives are being a held to a higher standard, and brands are now acutely aware of the cost of these sorts of faux pas.

Let’s hope they learn from each other’s mistakes.

Standard
gender, gender gaps, girls rights, ICT4D, stereotyping, women in the labor force, Women's rights

Girls in ICT Day 2014!

To celebrate this year’s girls in ICT day, I’d like to focus on the intersection of adolescent girls (aged 10-19) and ICT4D. I recently gave a short presentation at Tulane University and you can find the presentation here.

There was quite a bit of interest in the ways in which mobile phone apps can inadvertently harm, rather than empower, girls and young women. I guess we have this notion that ‘access to tech = empowerment’. if only it were so simple! not to say that information communication technologies haven’t facilitated positive changes and will continue to do so. It’s just that treating them like some miracle cure is bound to end up in disappointment.

A while back I wrote about the ways in which mobile apps meant to protect women from violence can actually put them in harm’s way. essentially, understanding violence as ‘stranger danger’ is totally misleading, since most violence is committed by intimate partners and family members. The idea of a panic button that sends a signal to a family member if you’re harassed or attacked in the street sounds good. but it could all too easily be turned into a tool that allows for surveillance of young women, curtailing their freedom and mobility out of a misguided sense of ‘protection’. Certainly as a woman im much more interested in an app that will change attitudes, and allow me to dress and act in any way i see fit without garnering catcalls or even opening myself up to assault.

gender and girls rights

Another interesting topic that came up was control over ICTs. I made the point that so much of the technology we used is designed and engineered by men. the lack of female representation in the tech industries, and the poor number of young women studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at secondary school and university levels, means women play a role as consumers of technology and little else. why is this the case? A slightly dated (but still wonderful) report from Cisco found the European girls (who, I’m sure we can all agree, are surrounded by technology all the time) tended to drop out of ICT studies around age 15.

The reasons:

  • lack of support  from role models
  • persistent stereotyped views that the sector is better suited to men
  • a lack of understanding about what ICT jobs entail
  • how easy or difficult they find the subject
  • girls don’t see ICT roles offering them chances to travel, to help others or to work independently.

the report concludes that from a business perspective this is a loss of talent. from a feminist perspective this is proof that socialization processes and entrenched forms of discrimination are keeping girls from ‘choosing’ to follow a techie career. and maybe if more women were involved in this field we would have better safety apps?

yes we can

This issue is a core part of what ‘girls in ICT’ day is about – encouraging girls to choose careers in tech. In the words of the 2014 flyer:

“The ICT sector remains a growing sector for employment and a key economic factor underpinning both national and international development in both developed and  developing countries. Many countries and regions are predicting a shortage of qualified staff with math, science, engineering and computing skills to meet the growing demand. At the same time, many companies are looking to increase the number of women in the sector. This means that highly qualified women in technical fields have significant opportunities available to them in both developed and developing countries. The need for qualified professionals in developing countries worldwide should come as no surprise, considering the rate of ICT growth in developing countries.Why don’t we try to reach even more girls and young women on International Girls in ICT Day 2014?”

there are numerous initiatives that are working to change the stereotypes around IT careers and encourage girls to pursue STEM studies. I’m optimistic about prospects, and believe more women are already making their mark. Certainly if Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book ‘Lean In’ and the foundation she opened to encourage girls to realize their potential are any indication, women are busily carving out a space at the top.

 

Keshet Bachan

 

Standard