10 Questions for Men Attending ERGs That Aren’t “for Them”April 3, 2018
Ask a man if he wants to attend a women’s ERG meeting and you might get a “deer in the headlights” look.
Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard in casual conversations with other men over the years:
- “Oh, no. I won’t be welcome there.”
- “Are you kidding? I would have absolutely no idea what to do or say.”
- “They would probably ask me to leave.”
When asked for evidence to support these concerns, most men come up empty-handed. So how do you think they arrived at their opinions, anyway? It’s probably more than a simple fear of the unknown.
The fact is, for men attending events put on by ERGs that aren’t “for them” (depending on the person, these are ERGs based on a gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., that is different than theirs), something probably will feel a little different when they step into that room—they won’t be a part of the majority group!
Some men find it exciting. Others say it’s uncomfortable at first. But more often than not, men really do feel welcome in these groups, even if they don’t have all the answers.
By reflecting on the following questions, you’ll be better prepared to find your place in a new group and make the most of the partnerships you’re bound to form—if you just stick with it!
- When you hear the word “gender,” which “gender” immediately enters your mind and why?
- What does it mean to be a “real man” today, and what are the forces challenging that definition?
- What are your personal observations about how the majority racial/ethnic group experiences the workplace versus those in the minority?
- Would you want your wife or daughter to work in your place of employment?
- How does your culture/upbringing affect how you view women? How might that be different for other people?
- Have you called out other men who made biased or derogatory comments about women?
- What concerns do you have when traveling alone on business with a woman? How might she feel?
- If someone were to misidentify your sexual orientation, how would you feel?
- What’s stopping you from doing your part to make your workplace more inclusive?
Years from today, your granddaughter asks you: “Grandpa, what did you do to make the workplace and world better for women?” What will you tell her?
Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, trainer, and story-teller. He is a senior associate at Diversity Wealth, a contributing writer with The Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal and Catalyst. He can be reached at [email protected]