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Ted Bunch, Chief Development Officer of A Call To Men, joins the program to discuss the work that his organization does to promote a healthy, respectful manhood. Ted reveals lessons he has learned from parenting his youngest son, and the need for men to “call in” other men. He also shares about why men need to mentor women in the workplace, and the importance of men using their platform and privilege on behalf of women and other marginalized groups.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- What Ted has learned recently from parenting his youngest son (1:30)
- How men can be the solution to culture change in the workplace (12:00)
- Why men should not hesitate to mentor women (17:30)
- Why both top-down and bottom-up change is needed (25:30)
- Why men need to reflect and reset their behaviors (30:00)
- The resilience needed for men to call in other men (33:00)
- How men can use their privilege and platform to benefit everyone (35:00)
- The business case for change (38:00)
- The importance of creating a sense of belonging for all (40:00)
Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:
JENNIFER BROWN: Ted, welcome to The Will to Change.
TED BUNCH: Thank you, Jennifer. I’m so happy to be here with you, and thank you so much for the opportunity to speak about our work.
JENNIFER BROWN: I love the work of A Call to Men. It’s an area, as our listeners know, that I am keeping a close eye on the work of men as allies and men in inclusion efforts, whether that’s the Better Man Conference, or Mark Greene and his Little MeToo Book for Men, who we’ve had on the podcast, and you are another piece of our learning here around the evolution of men and the role that men can play in more gender equitable societies, less violent societies, and better workplace culture. Thank you for joining me today.
TED BUNCH: It’s my pleasure.
JENNIFER BROWN: Ted, I know you have a million things you could share as your diversity story, but we like to say everyone has a diversity story on The Will to Change, and I like to just open that wide up to you to tell us about a moment, an experience, something in your life that created the awakening of wanting to do this kind of work deep in your soul, and that ultimately would lead you to making the impact that you’re making today. I’ll kind of hand that over to you and let you share what you’d like to share.
TED BUNCH: Thank you so much. That’s a great question. I was raised, both my parents were Civil Rights activists. We always had conversations around social justice and differences in people, and we always had those conversations. I grew up an African American man, but grew up in a middle class white community. I grew up relatively privileged, and have lots of experiences around being different.
I don’t really want to talk about my experience. I’d like to give you an example of what I’ve learned recently as I observe and parent my youngest son. His name’s Jalen. He’s 17 now. When he was 15 he came out as gay. We were waiting for him too. We were waiting to celebrate him. His mother and I both expected that this is who he is. We were as prepared as we could be.
Once he came out, and I’m watching him and watching his experience, and he came out to me, came out to his friends, he came out in school, and it occurred to me as watching him go through the decision to tell people, how to tell people, including his siblings, for him to develop the language to tell them, it really occurred to me that “wow, he has to make a decision to come out almost on a daily basis, almost at any new experience.”
Let’s say going to a new school or a job or meeting new people and really who he is is this wonderful, beautiful young man who happens to be gay, and he has to make a decision to share that or not, because many people have reactions to that. That was a real learning experience to me, to have to make a decision to claim yourself, all your fullness, or not, depending on how you felt, around being different or diverse or not feeling included or not knowing if you will be included or if you will have a sense of belonging in this new group.
That was really something that I had no perspective on. I hadn’t given any thought to. That really taught me a lot about difference. Certainly as a black man I’ve experienced feeling different, but when I look at someone like my son who’s a member of the LGBQ trans, gender non-conforming community, that there’s additional things and layers that I had no idea. That was a real lesson learned for me.
JENNIFER BROWN: That is so beautiful. I love how you said you and your wife were ready. The conversation was ripe and you were ready to love and support him. You had some unexpected reactions, too, as well. You’re a product of parents in the Civil Rights work. You do this work for a living. How are your own practices or assumptions challenged about your own wokeness, for lack of a better word. If you could kind of get into a bit of heterosexism in terms of defining that, and how did that show up for you? We all carry that around, regardless of whether or not we do this work or not, it’s embedded in all of us. We’ve been socialized in this way. What was triggered for you, and then what kind of growth did you undertake as a result of loving him and supporting him in the world?
TED BUNCH: I was, as you say, woke is a pretty good word, how I would have described myself as a pretty woke parent, woke person, and somebody who has a certain awareness. I’m looking through lenses that are really social justice and socially conscious. With my son, I really was ready, as ready as I could be, or thought I was, anyway, for him to come out, like the first boyfriend, letting other people know, that kind of thing.
I wrote an article recently with Refinery 29 and I explained this, so some of your audience may have, if they happened to see it, sorry to be repetitive, but it really speaks to my own socialization, my thoughts around my own heterosexism. We all have biases and we’re taught through the collective socialization in our society certain biases.
I know we’ll get into that around women and gender, but I had biases also as insightful and as aware as I thought I was, as my son began to come out more and more, these things came up for me more and more, so I had to address them. For example, I take all of my children to get their … I like manicures and pedicures and I’ve taken all of my sons, and I have four sons. I have taken all of them.
JENNIFER BROWN: Love it.
TED BUNCH: For pedicures and manicures. Yeah. It’s a really cool thing. Jalen, one of the times I took him, wanted to get his nails done, painted. I was like okay, cool, sure. Inside, I was really hoping gosh, I hope he chooses something dark. Don’t go with pink. Don’t go with light blue. Don’t go with yellow. This is in my mind. I’m not saying this to him because I know that I need to let him express himself. I’m saying go with black or purple or something like that.
I really had to look at that, because that’s my own bias that I really was having a reaction. That was my heterosexism. There’s fear for him because of how society views the LGBQ trans and gender non-conforming individuals. There was fear for him, but it was also my stuff, and I really had to look at it and I had to examine it and I had to work on that. It didn’t take long. It was just a quick adjustment, because I know when, one of the things about being in a privileged group or a dominant group, we do have unconscious bias. Some bias is very purposeful. Some discrimination is very purposeful, but some is also unconscious. I saw what was operating there.
The difference, perhaps, with me, and maybe another father who has a child who does not present as heterosexual or does not identify that way, is that I just have an awareness about it and it’s a growing awareness. It’s not that I arrived and I have all the answers. It’s ongoing education for myself, but that awareness, I know when it’s like okay, that’s not about my son. That’s about me. When we look at heterosexism, it really is a form of discrimination.
Sometimes as I’m talking to people around the country, a lot of times, men in particular, get heterosexism confused with homophobia, where homophobia is really the fear, in my understanding of it, is the fear of being perceived as gay. If a man is with a group of guys and a woman walks by and the guy’s … Let’s say it’s a construction site or it could be a hallway in a high school, a woman walks by and all the guys, or let’s say five of the six guys say something to her that objectifies her and the sixth guy does not.
Then, those five guys notice that the sixth guy does not and they make fun of him about it, because one of the ways we define ourselves as men is to demonstrate that we’re heterosexual, because this man box construct, the man box is a concept that talks about the collective socialization of manhood, and it’s a term that we’ve coined here at A Call to Men. That man who does not objectify her, who shows respect for her actually, is considered outside of the man box, and we will, meaning that men will, attempt to push him back into the man box by demeaning him, saying that he’s less than a man or there must be something wrong with him, or, “You don’t like women,” and all these other things.
That’s really tapping into his homophobia. If he then complies with them, the next woman comes by and joins in, then that was his homophobia working. The fear of being perceived as gay. Heterosexism is really more of a form of discrimination. If a man who comes in to the room and if someone assumes that he’s gay and says, “You don’t belong here,” or, “You can’t be here,” then that’s discrimination just like it would be any other kind of oppression. Racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism.
JENNIFER BROWN: That’s right. You just gave a good treatise on all the terms that are, I think, maybe misunderstood or not on people’s radar screens, or I think make people feel defensive one way or the other, but when you explain them, it makes a sad kind of sense that we live in a heterosexist, homophobic society, really.
TED BUNCH: We do.
JENNIFER BROWN: Tell us about this man box a bit more. When you step outside of the man box, and you’re the only one that’s doing that, you take a risk, whether it’s how you express your gender, whether you say something versus remaining silent about some kind of comment or jokes or behavior. It’s really the whole, to me, the question is how do men speak to and challenge other men about the way that they’ve been socialized?
What is the vision for A Call to Men for a different kind of dynamic? I suspect toxic masculinity has been named by the American Psychological Association as something that causes real violence in our culture. It’s a giant problem with the numbers of women who come to the hospital. I think you shared a statistic that 35% of women that come to seek care at a hospital because of having been injured were injured by an intimate partner.
TED BUNCH: Yeah.
JENNIFER BROWN: We are dealing with startling statistics that we don’t look at, I think, often enough. Then we look at the workplace, and the workplace is full of micro inequities and tons of bad behavior that’s not called out and named and addressed and nobody’s held accountable for it, so it continues into the workplace of course, unchecked. Tell us about how are men complicit, in this and why does the answer perhaps lie with men as well, because I think that’s where you’re focused on?
TED BUNCH: Yes. Thank you. If I could just say, the mission of A Call to Men is to work to promote a healthy respect for manhood and shift attitudes and behaviors that devalue women and girls and other marginalized groups. That’s where our work is really addressing these issues in our society in attitudes and behaviors.
We teach that men are socialized to view women as objects, as property on some level, and as having less value than men. The term the man box that we’ve coined illustrates that collective socialization. In the man box, to answer your question, men are supposed to be powerful, dominating, fearless, and in control, strong, and emotionless, and successful. The man box perpetuates, as we’ve mentioned, the heterosexist norms that value all of those who don’t conform to a gender binary.
As we talk to men, we know that, in my experience, men, for the most part, want to do the right thing. Our collective socialization has taught us to view women in certain ways, that we’re supposed to objectify women. When we look at post MeToo, it’s pretty clear that there’s probably not a woman who hasn’t had some form of sexual harassment in one way or another. If that’s the case, then there’s probably not too many men who haven’t engaged in some sort of sexual objectification of women or laughing at the sexist joke at the water cooler. I guess it would be at the Keurig these days.
One of the ways we define ourselves as men, one of the ways we prove that we are men is to objectify women. The workplace is a microcosm of the greater society. We bring these attitudes and beliefs and these behaviors into the workplace with us. The teachings of the man box help maintain a male dominated society where men hold primary power and the majority of the roles in leadership, even moral authority and social privilege and have the largest control over property and resources.
We often see that men, while they may think that they’re, and want to be, the best men possible, the way that we see women is through these lenses that are filled with male privilege, male entitlement, seeing men as being superior to women, even on an unconscious basis. Our reaction in the workplace, as well as in our society is one that we’ve had to move through because of a crisis in some way.
The last two years in the workplace it’s really been since the sexual harassment in the workplace has really come to light since really the elevation of MeToo. Now we’re looking at workplaces in a much different way. We’re looking at it through the cultural lens that what is it that we need to address in the culture of the workplace? That really is the unconscious bias. That really is the unconscious bias of men and the male dominated society that we live in. Most men, also, if I could say most men are not abusive. This is not an indictment on manhood, but an invitation to men.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes. I love that reframe. It’s beautiful and very helpful, I think. I believe too, that many want to do things differently. The question I get the most is, “So where do I start?” and, “What do I do differently?” Then, I think there’s also some disturbing research from out of LeanIn, and I don’t know if you’ve seen this, where it documents a pulling back of men from one on one relationships in the workplace with female colleagues, whether that’s a mentor/mentee relationship or a colleague or a team relationship because of this fear of saying the wrong thing because of this fear of getting caught in the drag net of MeToo.
I wonder what you would say to men who express, “I just don’t want to be involved. Therefore, I’m going to lessen all of my contact with and collaboration with women because now I’m scared.” I know we can be cheeky about it and say, “Well, if you have something to be scared about then that’s one conversation. If you don’t, what’s your problem?” I don’t think we can answer it in that glib way.
I wonder what somebody with your experience and knowledge would say to men who feel very hesitant right, now and they feel for good reason. I don’t want to run afoul of anything. Now I’ve been sensitized to this and I know so much that I’m just going to keep out of it, and then deprive, I think, others around them of the power sharing that we really need to see between men who tend to have powerful positions and women. That pulling away, that backing off, the isolation is actually exactly the opposite of what we need to see more of in the workplace. What do you say to that resistance point when you hear it? I’m sure you’ve heard it.
TED BUNCH: You’re absolutely right. Yeah. From our perspective, and for experiencing the change in a lot of men, that this is really an exciting time for men, because it’s an opportunity for us to reflect. We’ve all been forced to reflect post MeToo, we all have, myself included. We’ve been forced to reflect on how we’ve impacted others.
It’s also exciting time because it allows us to also reset. It gives us an opportunity to reset. What I say to men like that and that’s not an unusual feeling or position that men feel challenged by this time and threatened in some ways, because it really is challenging male privilege and entitlements in ways that they’ve never been challenged before.
Actually, this is the first time … Let me say this. We are the first generation of men being held accountable for something men have always gotten away with. We don’t really have language, we don’t have a history of how to handle it. We’re kind of building the plane as we’re flying it.
What I would say to men is that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. What we have to gain from this is positive things. The more inclusive we are in the workplace, the better. I would say to men who have leadership in businesses in the workplace, that what you want to do is not avoid women, but to bring them in. That’s really what you want to do. If your policy, and when you raised the question, it made me think of this conversation. I was with a training in corporate America. I won’t say the organization because it really doesn’t matter. It was really high end banking.
I’m speaking to them around sexual harassment in the workplace, from a prevention point of view, because most men don’t perpetrate sexual harassment in the workplace. We often do not say something, again, at the sexist joke, or we’ll be silent if a guy is objectifying a woman. Our silence is as much of a problem as the sexual harassment is. We have to change that culture. I remember one man saying something that I know a number of men thought in the room. That’s generally what happened. When one man brings up a question, even though it may seem really out there, there’s some others who are thinking the same thing.
He said, “Well, I think the best thing for me,” and this was, I’m going to assume, a well meaning man, a good guy, someone who’s never sexually harassed anyone in the workplace, who’s very respectful of women. He said, “You know, I think it’s probably best if I just don’t have closed door meetings with a woman and if I don’t take a woman out to any sort of dinner or lunch, something that I might do with my staff, for some off-site meeting or something like that.”
I said, “Well, if you do that, if that’s your policy, then that needs to be your policy across the board. That needs to be your policy with men, too.” You can’t have a closed door meeting with men and an open door meeting with women. That’s discrimination if things are different. Everything has to be fair. You can’t have a one on one lunch with your male executive in your corporation and then say you’re not going to do it with a female executive in your corporation, because it’s favoritism. It isn’t fair. It isn’t equitable.
By the way, when doors have been closed, it’s not women who have been inappropriate during those instances. It’s really men. That’s what we do as men, because again, we’re seeing it from our perspective, and our perspective is one that’s just about us. We’re seeing it through these lenses that have privilege and entitlement attached to it. We’ll blame women for difficulties that men experience as it relates to women. It’s very similar to what we might do for sexual assault, if a woman’s sexually assaulted at night. Why were you out at night? Why did you have that on? Why did you have so much to drink, opposed to what this man did?
JENNIFER BROWN: By the way, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Good for women is good for all kinds of men, too. I think the discomfort probably has been felt by a lot of different people. If we kind of get back to basics to say if I’m the person with power, regardless of my identity, I’m the one with power in this equation. What I’d like to see is for the person with the less power to be the one that’s driving the definition of comfort in place and time in those conversations.
When I hear about mentoring meetings that happen at hotel bars late at night or on the road or in a sports bar where there’s a lot of alcohol going on. I’m not sure women are the only ones that might have been uncomfortable in those kinds of places. I think that it’s much more broad. Again, it speaks to the people who are hosting those meetings, or suggesting those kind of team building activities are only seeing it through their lens.
TED BUNCH: That’s right.
JENNIFER BROWN: If they’re never thinking about the fact that they’re having an athletic competition as part of their team off-site, and who might be left out from that or who might be really uncomfortable or hurt themselves or whatever it is. I just think it all comes back to, I think, the limitations of our lens, and when it’s unchecked, we’re going to make sure we’re comfortable all the time, particularly if we have power and we haven’t really thought about these things. We’re not going to take a view from the others around us to say what would be an inclusive way to conduct my mentoring meetings? What day, what time? Like you said, apply it across the board. You may have LGBTQ men.
TED BUNCH: Exactly.
JENNIFER BROWN: Who’s in a meeting with a boss, and they may not want the door closed, either.
TED BUNCH: Yes. Right.
JENNIFER BROWN: Anyway. It’s so much bigger than a gender issue. I think it’s honestly it’s an inclusion issue.
TED BUNCH: That’s so important what you’re bringing up. Especially with the LGBQ trans gender non-conforming community, again, the language that is used is very heteronormative and often heterosexist and homophobic at times. Even the conversations about what’s happening in the lunch room or at a board meeting or at any meeting, the language may be things that are really offensive to members of that community.
When we look at the most common things around, especially diversity and inclusion and women’s leadership initiatives that’s solely focused on women and underrepresented groups, that to your point, we need to focus on educating the dominant group into what’s happening.
For instance, in many workplaces, we need to include education for the dominant group, which would be white men in position of power and leadership. The organization will not achieve the culture change that they need if we don’t have, again, those voices you’re talking about in the margins of the margins who are in that work environment sharing their experience of how they’re impacted. You’re absolutely right. It needs to be from a top down and from a bottom up.
If I can just share with you and your audience that A Call to Men has created a number of training options for organizations to help promote diversity and inclusion. We customize them to ensure we are meeting the specific needs of the organization, so there’s not a one size fits all. Our unique analysis serves the foundation to all of them.
We’ve also recently launched a new online training platform called A Call to Men institute of Higher Learning. That can be found at instituteforhigherlearning.org. We’ve launched it about a month ago with courses on sexual harassment prevention that meet all the general requirements for the 50 states with compliance and later this year be rolling out other courses like unconscious bias, the man box, courses to prevent sexual assault in the military, on college campuses. We’re really excited about the ability to get our work out to everyone through this Institute for Higher Learning which is an online platform.
JENNIFER BROWN: Thank you for developing those products. It’s so needed. If we can get something to male leaders and colleagues, where they won’t avoid the class or feel like it’s compliance related, or, “Oh, I just have to check the box that I attended this,” but somehow we have to create a conversation that feels very real and very urgent, and somehow we need to generate empathy.
I agree that I think we’ve spent tons of time and resources helping those on the margins, or those who are underrepresented kind of come together and find their voice, but there is always the complaint that the right people aren’t in the room. The other half of the equation is not here at the table learning with us. I think this is a big missing piece to change because we need everyone to change in different ways, but they’ve got to change together in order for change to be sustainable, and yet most programs have focused on either the mandatory unconscious bias training, which people attend unwillingly, sometimes, often, and then the other side, which is the celebration of diversity amongst ourselves, but we are in danger of preaching to the choir if we focus too much on that.
To me it’s a question of who has been left behind or out or thinks they don’t matter in the equation that we’re talking about, and how might we invite real participation, not just participation on paper? Real deep, self reflection on the part of folks who have thought traditionally diversity had nothing to do with them, because somehow in the way we’ve approached it, that message has been received.
TED BUNCH: Yeah. Yeah. We need to listen to the most affected. We need to make our efforts accountable to those, and A Call to Men, we intentionally look at those at the margins of the margins, which I mentioned before, in order for them to articulate their own lived experience and help to find solutions. That’s what needs to happen in the workplace. Those in leadership and power need to be able to listen to those voices.
Historically, organizations typically have approached sexual harassment solely from a policy perspective. This approach, through HR, for instance, through the policies and procedures. This just isn’t enough anymore. It’s not just about, as you say, checking the box. We need to go deeper and actively address harassment. Even with the term toxic masculinity, while that’s what we are talking about, that kind of names it, that man box, those harmful things that are in the man box, but it also separates men where they can say, “That’s not my problem.”
That’s what we do not want to do. Those men can separate themselves from the incident, when in reality, men are really the solution, because we can change the culture by addressing other men. While it’s important that men who cross the line are called out, that’s important, but we have to be intentional about calling men in. That’s really where we need to move this forward is that everybody can be a part of this solution, that it’s time to reflect, but also reset where coworkers can say to each other as men, “Hey, we don’t do that anymore. That’s not cool. Where have you been? Haven’t you been watching the news?”
That’s a really easy thing to do, where two years ago it wasn’t so easy. While why we embrace and advocate for policy and procedure, A Call to Men goes a bit deeper to address the root problem that underlying cause of violence, harassment, discrimination against women that’s rooted in ways that women and girls have been traditionally viewed and treated in our society and of course, those in LGBQ trans, and gender non-conforming community as well.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. That’s beautifully said. Listen to the affected. It’s an interesting dichotomy when I think about the risk of stepping outside the man box for men. On the one hand, I think it’s less risky, because there’s less consequences in a way to you doing that than there would be for a woman, for example, speaking up. To me, that’s the definition of allyship, is if there’s something you can do that carries less risk and it’s easier for you to do, you should do it. That’s what you should be doing with your privilege.
In doing so, you’re saving somebody else an entire, it could be a year’s worth of time where they’re getting their courage up to speak truth to power, to tell the truth. Literally, I think we need to, all of us, balance the workload. There are things that are easy for an insider to do that are much harder for an outsider to do, and the outsider will pay the consequences of doing it. On the one hand, it’s like one comment from one man to another can change something forever. One tiny comment.
TED BUNCH: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Imagine that quick small low risk comment or push back or whatever it is that would literally save another person months of angst or tons of risk to take to tell the truth, to speak up for themselves. We need this rebalancing, because right now I think the onus and the burden falls to the affected to speak up.
TED BUNCH: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: We’re always the ones that are testifying, we’re always the ones that are witnessing, we’re always the ones that are stretching ourselves and our comfort zones, and honestly, our career reputations by challenging the power, if you will. I think there’s a sharing and a balance that we need to see. Then, on the flip side, I know enough about the man box to know that when a man steps out of that, he’s taking a huge risk.
TED BUNCH: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: He may be ostracized, he may be made to pay the price. He’s got to have a certain amount of resilience and character and courage to step out of it and speak the truth and hold that space outside of that behavior, and hold that over time and be a counter voice in a way.
I always say allies have a coming out journey, too. It’s not just easy one day to wake up and say, “I’m going to use my voice.” If it’s not uncomfortable, you’re probably not doing enough. It’s an interesting thing. It’s easy, in a way, from where I sit, it’s like oh please if you could just do this one thing, it will save all these people all this heartache and collateral damage, but on the other side, it’s very risky for men to break out of this.
TED BUNCH: You bring up so many things. I just want to say that the issue of privilege, for us as men, to remain silent, speaks to our privilege.
JENNIFER BROWN: Right.
TED BUNCH: We’re able to do that. “Ah, I’m not going to say anything about that. Let me go on and grab lunch and keep my day moving.” It speaks to my privilege where that person who was just offended, as you say, maybe feeling the repercussions of that for the next year. We need to step out of the man box because that not only supports change in that culture, the work environment, but also it’s a benefit to men. We become better men because of it.
There’s lots of things that benefit us by breaking out of the man box, by confronting these things that we see as unfair, and we encourage men in the workplace to use their influence and their platform to speak up. If they’re a man in that workplace who’s in good standings as an employee, which I would think most men would be, to raise your voice, to say, “You know what? That doesn’t really feel right. Did you just hear what Jennifer said? That impacts me in this way. I want our organization to go in this direction, or we want to be respectful of women, and we’re not even listening to what she has to say.”
To be able to support, stand in solidarity, not to save anyone, it’s not about rescuing. It’s about doing the right thing. We will all benefit from that. It’s important to call men out and to call behaviors out, but we want to be very intentional about calling men in, too. What we found is that men want to do the right thing, but we just haven’t had language or history in moving this way. It’s a a paradigm shift. We’ve had to make the turn with no warning, really.
JENNIFER BROWN: It’s true.
TED BUNCH: I’m not saying feel sorry for us, because it’s been on this road for a long time. I’m not saying feel sorry for us, but I’m just saying it’s a shift for men, and it’s a shift for the better. We’re only going to benefit from this. We’re not giving up. We’re gaining. We’re really gaining. We’re not giving up things that are … I don’t know how else to say it other than we’re really benefiting from it, because it’s going to create a better work environment, there’s going to be more of a bonding for the workers, there’s going to be a much better product that comes out, whatever your business is, and people are going to be happier, and you’re going to be seen in that community and your work environment, you’re going to be elevated and other men are going to respect it as well.
Those who don’t are going to have to come around eventually, because this is our culture now. This is where we’re going. I would encourage businesses to have things that are visible, that support inclusion, that support diversity, that support respect in the workplace. I’m talking about, I don’t know, posters, signs. I know of a company who puts some things in the restrooms over stalls that just kind of have some positive messaging, so that if someone does confront someone else or say, “Hey, that’s not cool,” it isn’t about me and you, it’s about the culture that’s changed.
JENNIFER BROWN: Wonderfully said. I agree. I’d also like more people in dominant groups with relative more privilege to be talking about this and saying things and being more public as the face of efforts, which is a different twist on also wanting to center on unheard voices and underrepresented faces, for example, in marketing campaigns and featuring the stories of the stories that haven’t ever been told, that people don’t even know that are sitting in the cube next to them.
It’s this really interesting time of, to me, the messenger, as well as the message. I’d like to extend that invitation to people that look like they are a straight white male identified person, but to give that opportunity to dig deep into their diversity story, dig deep into their own learning and growth, like you said, and find a way to authentically talk about what that means to them. You just gave a lot of wonderful pieces of the business case, is what you and I call it, the rationale for why this will create better products and services, allow you to attract and retain the best talent, and really kind of position you as a role model to other men as a different way of being a man in the workplace and in the world.
I think that’s a pretty enticing bunch of benefits, and I think those who resist all of it by looking at it as a zero sum game, are eventually going to probably need to make some choices about how they’re going to show up. Are they going to be a part of the evolution towards a different idea of manhood and a different idea of how men lead and be colleagues, or are they going to make a different choice? It’s interesting, history is marching forward, demographics are changing. There’s really no slowing down of the diversity of our world. I do find myself trying to explain this to a lot of people and kind of get them on board, and it sounds like you spend a lot of your energy doing that, too.
TED BUNCH: Yes. Yes. People are so threatened and there’s really nothing to be threatened about.
JENNIFER BROWN: That’s right.
TED BUNCH: People are threatened and it’s just a waste of energy. We don’t have to fight over it. There’s enough. We just need to be open and be open to being different and be open to you know what? My perspective isn’t the only perspective. My reality may need some tweaking, because it really is, and I’m speaking as a man, that if I didn’t have women around me, even in doing the work that I do. I do work all the time around healthy and respectful manhood, and the information that I take in and how I move forward, I’m so influenced and so impacted by women and their experience.
I learn how men impact women, not from my own experience, but from how women share with me how they’ve experienced men. That’s how I then talk to men, because I don’t know what the experience is, in the same way that a well meaning white person doesn’t know the experience of a person of color and a black person, and they need to be able to hear that experience.
With my privilege, and this is one thing about privilege, is that we have it whether we want it or not. Even if I don’t want this male privilege, I have it. When I open the door to a room, it’s waiting there for me. The same thing with race privilege. That’s true in the workplace as well. That’s the construct of our society, and it shows up in the workplace as well. We need to be aware of it. We really have to be open to including others’ diversity, and creating a sense of belonging for all.
JENNIFER BROWN: Ted, that is a perfect note to wrap up on. I want folks to know where to find your thought leadership and your work. You mentioned some great new online training programs that you’re creating. Your TED talks, what would you like to share with your audience in hearing more from you and learning more from you?
TED BUNCH: Fantastic. Yes. Thank you for that. Our social media handles are @acalltomen. Our website is acalltomen.org. You can sign up for our monthly newsletters, which is Out of the Man Box, and also allows you to be on our email list, so you’ll be able to get notifications of our trainings and all kinds of things. That’s our best way of staying in touch.
Then, we also have the instituteforhigherlearning.org where you can go online and look at classes and courses you might want to take. That’s the best way to get ahold of us. If you want to email us, you can also do that on the website. We’d love to have more conversations about this. I just want to thank you, Jennifer, for using your influence and your platform to elevate this important issue.
JENNIFER BROWN: There’s scarcely anything more important than this. I really thank you for joining me, Ted. Thanks for coming on The Will to Change.
TED BUNCH: Thank you so much.
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