So often straight white men may feel left out or marginalized in diversity and inclusion discussions. Some may even feel that they are be targeted as “the diversity problem” or feel under appreciated or even discriminated against. I would like to offer 4 points for consideration, and have added links to two related online articles at the end.
1. You are diverse as a straight white man! Every single person in an organization is diverse and unique, and brings their own special mix of background and experience to the table. Though some people may view straight white men as a monolithic group, there is a huge mix of diversity including age, marital / family status, education, thought processes,economic upbringing, etc.
2. Accept your privilege. White men (and I am one of them) need to realize that we have been in control of most of the organizational leadership and processes in the US. It has been easier for us to progress into senior leadership within a system with the incumbent leadership looking like us. We now need to accept that with a wider pool of diverse candidates now getting their fair shot at leadership, we truly must be the best qualified to deserve that next promotion.
3. Realize that straight white men face their own diversity challenges. For example, as both parents are now take a stronger role in raising families, some managers may still excuse a woman when she needs to leave work early to pick up a sick child at school, but look down at a man with the same request as “less than” and questioning why his wife does not pick up the child. And there are also single fathers, men with responsibility for aging parents, etc., that need strong work-life balance practices without feeling that they are somehow “less manly.”
4. Be a strong active diversity ally. We need to reject any thoughts or discussion that white men are the cause of diversity issues. Instead, we can take the lead and be a major ally to promote diversity and inclusion as a critical strategic initiative within our organizations. We can mentor diverse candidates and help insure they have full access to the tools to help them get head and contribute their maximum to the organization. And we can network among our own peers and speak passionately about the value of diversity.
Yes, I know many people may disagree or not even like this blog, but dialogue on diversity items like this are important. In fact, here are two more in depth articles you can read on this subject, I may not agree with them and instead make my above 4 points, but it is always good to consider all aspects of a complex discussion:
I thank my business partner Marie-Louise Murville of Delight Me for sending me the Washington Post article, “Workplace diversity policies don’t help – and make white men feel threatened.”
And one I found via LinkedIn, “Diversity Talk Makes White Men Anxious, and Other Reasons Diversity Programs Fail.”