Men are a vital part of the diversity mix and need networking opportunities too.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), often call Business Resource Groups, are employee led groups supported by company leadership around groups with common identities. The most popular groups are women, race and culture-based groups, LGBTQA, Veterans and People with Disabilities. Over the past few years ERG efforts have expanded into groups like Mental Health and Wellness, Parents / Caregivers, Environment Awareness and more.
ERGs ideally serve both the needs of employees and the organization around DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging) initiatives and organize activities around leadership development, recruiting, community outreach, workplace culture and more.
Now more organizations, including one of my best clients which I have helped launch ERGs and training their leaders, have started Men’s ERGs. And this has raised some questions like:
• Why do we need a men’s ERG? They are not an under-represented minority within our organization.
• Men hold most of the power and privilege in our organization, so why would they need a group?
Yes, there are valid questions. And here are four valid reasons for the legitimacy of and the need for Men’s ERGs:
1. Men are indeed a crucial part of the diversity fabric. DEIB is about all of us working together to leverage our unique differences for good, not setting up a “We vs. Them” culture. We should never frame the discussion as one of the “diverse and the un-diverse.” Everyone is part of diversity. This also now provides availability of all employees to join an ERG that aligns with their identity in addition to joining as allies.
Men are now taking more responsibilities at home and with children.
2. Men are now facing many of the same challenges that women have always faced in the workplace, especially as men in today’s culture are taking more responsibility for managing the home and raising the children. Men also may need to discuss challenges like managers who are OK with women on the team needing to leave early to pick up a sick kid from school, but look unfavorably upon their male employees who need to do the same.
3. Men can have in depth discussions on how they can work together to promote DEIB instead of being labeled as “the diversity problem.” They can team with the women’s ERG to discuss how men can better support and mentor women in the workplace and better understand challenges and issues women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities face.
4. Finally, there are some industries and organizations where men are indeed an under-represented minority.
It is great that ERGs are continuing to grow and expand into more areas so that everyone can participate in advancing DEIB in the increasingly diverse interconnected global economy.
Respectful communications in diverse settings is now becoming even more critical
In the October 6-12, 2023 Triangle Business Journal “View Point” column, Communications coach and speaker Karen Friedman provided her article “Here’s Why Women Should Not Talk Like Men.” Karen starts the article by addressing the question she often gets about how to get women to communicate more like men. She replies by sharing that people should not aspire to communicate like someone they’re not.
She shares research on how and why women communicate differently than men, but them closes the article with seven key tips to help everyone develop strong communicate skills without compromising who they are. So I will share her seven and add some of my own comments. Here they are:
Effective listening is certainly one of the top communication skills.
1) Listening. Listen without interrupting the person, let them finish their thought or idea. And listen with 100% concentration and don’t be formulating your response while they are talking. See my earlier blog on listening skills for leaders.
2) Empathy. Sit in your listeners’ seat to try and understand where they are coming from. This is a part of the key inclusive leadership skills of cultural intelligence – knowing that not everyone views the world through the same lens and experiences that you do.
3) Ask questions. This shows that you are truly listening, are engaged and want to know more. Most people appreciate asking them questions as a way of showing interest. And never ask questions in any accusatory tone, but instead out of a sincere desire to learn more.
4) Hit the headline. Attention spans are dwindling, so quickly get to the point without talking in circles or rambling with unnecessary or unrelated details. This is especially important when those of us in the older generations (Baby Boomers and Gen X) are communicating with the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z.) The younger generation grew up with quick sharp communications and short sound bytes.
5) Clarity. Avoid complicated language that can confuse listeners. It is very important to understand your audience and their expertise in what you are sharing. What is important to them? And especially in communicating with multi-national audiences, slow down your cadence and avoid the use the slang terms and idioms.
6) Tone. A respectful but confident tone can impact how your message is received. The opposite of this would include tones of condescension, aggression, and whining / complaining negativity.
7) Culture. This key one goes across all the other six skills since cultural differences certainly impact all areas of how people communicate and receive communication from others.
I fully agree with one of Karen’s closing points that a strong communicator transcends gender, and I will also add that it can transcend cultures and generations too.