Why We Need To Redefine Masculinity at Work—And in the World

David Gelles, Sigal Avin, Shelley Zalis and David Schwimmer at the Men of Action Summit.

David Gelles, Sigal Avin, Shelley Zalis and David Schwimmer at the Men of Action Summit. Photo credit: Stacey Salter Moore – The Female Quotient 

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been amazing for breaking the silence surrounding harassment in the workplace and for creating consequences for bad behavior.
It’s been said that 2018 is the Year of the Woman, and it’s been a long time coming. Let us not forget that when women are undergoing a cultural shift, men are as well—because we’re all in this together. The old rules need to be rewritten, and men are also trying to find their new place in the shifting power dynamics. Transformation won’t happen without everyone working together to activate change.
The Female Quotient hosted the first-ever Men of Action Summit in the Girls’ Lounge at Advertising Week to help us all move forward in a positive direction. We invited thought leaders and male executives from top companies to have unplugged conversations around equality, masculinity, and the future of men and women in the workplace. One theme that kept coming up was the need to redefine masculinity. Here are key takeaways:

Healing men as well as women will help drive gender equality

“As a kid, a lot of things frightened me and I didn’t grow up in an environment where that was okay to feel, and it took me a long time to heal from that. The healing of men is very important.”
Tony Porter, CEO, A Call To Men
“When we have a high incidence of violence in football games, there is a higher incidence of domestic violence…We believe that we need to empower and ready a new order of champions in a gender-equal world. Right now, it is men’s issue to make that gender equality become a reality… The issue of gender-based violence is because men are the perpetrators. When we heal men, we heal society.”
Grant Pereira, Brand Director, Carling Black Label, AB InBev South Africa
“I was bullied, and then I became a bully. Why? Because that was how I could protect myself.”
Farhoud Meybodi, Head of Creative/Co-Owner, Wayfarer Entertainment and Producer, Man Enough

Men are hardwired for empathy

“Men are full of empathy: they feel bad when they see others experiencing bullying, they feel bad when they see women being harassed. So what happens to them? We beat the empathy out of them.”
Gary Barker, President and CEO, Promundo
“So much of what we’re taught as men is to stuff down our emotions. You’re taught that you can’t show any pain or feelings. Anger is the only acceptable form of emotion. Women and girls can share their emotions, and men can’t. I believe that women are a lot closer to humanity than men, [so when we distance ourselves from women] we’re also distancing ourselves from humanity.”
Tony Porter, CEO, A Call To Men

Sharing caregiving responsibilities will benefit us all

“My dad associated being a man, husband, father as being a provider to the point where I never saw him because he was always working. When he was around the house, he was ordering us around like his employees because he couldn’t turn it off.”
Quddus, Co-Founder and CEO, Camera Ready
“Women’s caregiving is the primary driver of the wage gap. Countries lose $160 trillion due to the wage gap. Half of dads said they missed something important in their child’s life because of work. Both men and women who felt supported in their caregiving responsibilities were happier and had better sex lives. Men are biologically as wired for care as women are. We want to give you back your birthright to be an empathetic human being who cares about equality.”
Gary Barker, President and CEO, Promundo

Positive Male Role Models Will Help The Next Generation

“A lot of our work is about manhood, but it’s also about something deeper. It’s about how we raise our sons … The data shows that we follow what other men and other guys do.”  
Gary Barker, President and CEO, Promundo
“I think we’re taught to be a rock, an island, a ‘man.’ I would say to my 13 year-old self what I said to my 13 year-old daughter: you are not alone. You have others. Keep the communication lines open. You don’t need to work through it only with your own tools.”
Robert Holzer, CEO, Matter Unlimited

Being Strong Doesn’t Equal Using Force

“A lot of men are looking for new ways to show up in the world, and are starting to see strength as a vulnerability, but there aren’t a lot of role models showing us what it’s like … I didn’t have a lot of men in my personal life who were telling stories that were vulnerable and authentic and transparent. I think a lot of young men are looking for stories that allow men to be full human beings … and I think we need to redefine masculinity where we’re defining it for ourselves.”
Wade Davis, Activist, Educator and Writer
“Being a good man is not just physical strength. It’s about being brave when people don’t ask you. It’s about being powerful by using your power to help those who have less power.”
Pankaj Bhalla, Director, Gillette and Venus, North America, P&G
Each and every one of us has the power to do good, do better and to make a difference. How can you use your voice for change?