Last week, Catalyst announced the launch of its new social network for men, MARC (Men Advocating Real Change). Rather than excluding men from the diversity conversation, the organization realized it could get more traction around diversity by engaging men who can be champions of the movement.
Jeanine Prime, PhD, VP of Research at Catalyst, explained, “We’ve understood for far too long that in order to change workplaces we need to work with men who still hold the majority of positions of power. We see that men don’t fully appreciate what they have to gain from full equality.”
She added, “By joining MARC, men can take a stand publicly.”
Mike Otterman, Social Media Manager at Catalyst, said the network was the first of its kind. “There’s nothing like this that exists for the workplace,” he said, acknowledging that there are a few groups for men centered around domestic violence issues. “Once we identified the gap, we know we had to do this.”
Catalyst has been working on the network for about a year and a half, Otterman said, and the site provides a number of tools that can empower men to be part of the gender equality conversation. Prime said, “We’re getting really granular about what men can do.”
Creating a Vocabulary
Otterman explained how the organization’s research showed that when many men hear the word “gender,” they tune out, thinking it’s a women’s issue or that it’s just not for them. Prime explained, “We need to be working with men in a wider sense.” Not just senior men, she continued – the group wants to work with men at mid and emerging levels as well. “The leaders of tomorrow, we need to be engaging them,” she said.
In addition to hosting real world events, MARC is an online forum for men to talk about gender issues, share best practices and tools, and talk about how they can get involved in driving gender equity.
Prime said, “Our research showed that men are really swayed by other men – we really want to engage men to be ready to be advocates.”
Many men are uncomfortable talking about gender issues with friends and colleagues – but the website will provide conversation starters and the vocabulary that might be helpful for men working toward gender equity in the workplace. She continued, “Men who get it aren’t quite sure how to talk to friends – this way, they can say, ‘look at this.’”
Otterman explained, “We’re creating a vocabulary and we want to help leverage and amplify the good guys. One of our main messages is that it’s not enough to be a good guy and go about your day.”
“For some guys, there’s a fear of judgment. We want to make this mainstream.
Prime and Otterman said the site will provide practical tools and interventions for men who want to get involved with gender equality at work. Prime explained, “Some of the tools on the site are about how you interrupt an action that was exclusive or devaluing women. Some men often don’t recognize when this is happening.”
“There is also advice for champions, like using humor rather than reprimands or embarrassment. When you put it out there, many men respond, ‘oh, I didn’t realize it that way.’ Sexism in the workplace is so common that it’s become almost normative,” she explained.
“It’s not about blaming – it’s about stepping up,” Otterman added.
By creating open dialogue and inviting new voices to the conversation, we can work toward a more diverse, fair, and productive workplace.