Mostly men: engaging men in culture change

Mostly men: engaging men in culture change

(c) emberin

Earlier this summer,  I wrote and edited a white paper for emberin,  around the significance of teaming with men for success and how getting the opposite sex on board with gender diversity and change programmes was the  only real way to make progress.

To support their work, emberin undertook a survey of male Australian business leaders and asked them some tough questions about their attitudes, behaviours and views on gender diversity.

Here’s an extract from the paper’s Executive Summary:

Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article entitled The Feminism of the Future Relies on Men. The author argued that twenty-first century programs focused on increasing gender diversity will only succeed if the men in the company are on-board with the idea in ideological terms and also support it in practical ways, suggesting that:

“The feminism of the future is shaping up to be about pulling men into women’s universe — as involved dads, equal partners at home and ambassadors for gender equality from the cabinet office to the boardroom.”

Gender diversity is now no longer about women smashing the glass ceiling and forcing their way into the men’s world; instead, it’s time to reverse twentieth century thinking and ask: what do the men want, think and feel about gender diversity?  And if men listen to other men – how can we help to change the way in which they think and speak when it comes to levelling the playing field?

emberin, as Australia’s leading gender diversity consultancy, is already very aware of this school of thought and has undertaken pioneering, award-winning work to support the concept that we call Mostly Men.  We know, via our qualitative research and our feedback from emberin programs such as my mentor – mastering gender leadership, that getting the guys on board and creating great male role models for other men (men who leave the office on time, men who promote and support women, men who convert their male colleagues to these behaviours) can make a real difference in Australian corporate life.

In 2008 emberin conducted the first Australian piece of qualitative research on the view of senior men who were champions of gender diversity. In conjunction with Telstra we then created a program for men. In the last two years almost 2000 men have completed that program and we have received significant feedback from them as individuals.

This report shares our findings with you and forms a pioneering piece of research on the current state of men in business in Australia today.

(c) emberin 2010

* * * * * * * * *

For more on this line of thought, click here to read an excellent article on in which they pose the question:

“Would you want your daughter to work here?”

– and then go on to suggest that,  for men in the corporate world,  answering “no” to that question has to mean that they need to be part of the solution.   A senior partner from Deloitte US continues with her belief that considering the question helps senior men see the work environment and culture from a very different and personal perspective.


2 thoughts on “Mostly men: engaging men in culture change

  1. I am so encouraged by your findings and excited to hear of the emberin work. For too long – especially from my US perspective – discussion of gender diversity has seemed set aside as a “woman’s issue.” Just as in my earlier marketing to women work – I know that as soon as the word “women” or “gender” is applied to anything, men are likely to back quietly out of the room. So – the more men who can open up to these conversations a bit, the less scary or uncomfortable the topic will be with more men (which is what needs to happen). Especially in a time where we need to address sustainability in our workforces and organizations, figuring out how to make gender diversity an exciting problem SOLVER will be key. I would love to stay posted on your/emberin work…


    1. Andrea – many thanks for your feedback and insightful comments! You can request a copy of the paper via – it contains some really interesting insights, I think and is, I believe, the first time that a group of male senior leaders have been really ASKED what they think about these issues, both in terms of problems and solutions.

      Look forward to staying connected, here and on Twitter! Thanks, Cleo


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