Yes, you at the back.
I’m talking to you.
When it comes to gender-related issues, it is a common fallacy to address Women only and leave Men completely out of the well-trodden equation. I’d go as far as saying, it’s the easy option: a cop-out.
Here’s why this is counter-intuitive.
Women know the problem all too well.
Men can leverage their enviable position on the gender hierarchy, to make statements that are heard. In today’s social media-driven climate, it’s not hard to be heard by a lot of people; the real crux is about being heard by the right people.
In other words, it’s no hard feat to garner respect and admiration from a niche internet community of Women calling for change, when you’re yodelling their exact beliefs back to them. It’s also easy to see this as success.
A deceptive illusion of progress.
You’ve embedded yourself deep in the ruts of an activism echo chamber.
We can’t rely on the thin thread of hope that these messages will filter indiscriminately through to the right people: the people who write change into the history books.
With the flick of a wrist and the swish of a pen.
We’re talking about the boardrooms of corporate global giants and the suit-heavy corridors of VC-firms. That’s where the Men are, since only 7% of VC firms in the US have equal gender representation (Varadan, M. 2019).
In these high-powered, high-flung business spheres, women are still seen as “other” and historically have not been invited to be part of “club”, where these prehistoric-seeming but critical man-to-man relationships are kindled, according to Cynthia Franklin, director of the NYU Stern Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship (Nugent, T. 2021).
So here I am, addressing the club that I’m not invited to.
Call me a corporate gate-crasher.
Men, your words are catalysts for change.
Here’s what we need from you.
The first step to radical responsibility and taking ownership of a situation, is to get radically curious. Learn about the issue, talk to people affected by gender-related discrimination. Everyone has a story.
Use your voice (I bet you found it a long time ago)
While the world waits for Women to quote-unquote “find their voice” (I call bullshit: they have a voice and they’re using it - they just need to be heard), the spotlight belongs to Men. Don’t worry, your use to us is far greater than that of ventriloquism – we want to hear what you actually have to say on the topic. We are open to your suggestions of how to edge, inch by inch, closer to a toll-free bridged gender gap.
Have the courage to put yourself in uncomfortable positions
Fighting for women’s rights is so… like… 1920s. An astonishingly large portion of people (Women included) will meet your attempts of starting gender-gap conversation, with indignant refute:
“Excuse me? It’s 2023. The gender gap doesn’t exist”
It’s important to remember how nuanced the situation is and that discomfort means that you’re in conversation with the right people: not members of an echo chamber.
Be open to feedback
You may not be surprised to hear that Men quite literally have tunnel vision. If we retrace our footsteps down the treacherous twists and turns of evolution, we can find out why. As historic hunters, Men have evolved to see accurately directly in front of them and over longer distances, though at the expense of their peripheral vision (Parvez, H. 2021). Like a pair of binoculars.
The eye is an extension of the brain. The truth is that men operate differently than women: they are linear-oriented. Accepting this can make life much less frustrating for everyone.
In this instance, we are asking you, Men, to stray somewhat from your evolutionary edifice.
Forget about being the specialist, for a moment, and be a realist. Look left and right of you, put yourself in our shoes.
Only then, when you digress from your one-way fast lane to success, and stop and breathe for a second, will you be properly receptive to our ideas.
Who knows: one of these ideas could even make you a lot of money.
Say “How can I help? (AND follow through on it)
Though society seems to cultivate the idea that Women are all-seeing and mind-reading: disclaimer, we aren’t. If you want to help (love that for you), say it.
But please, for the love of god, don’t ghost us afterwards too.
The question you might be left with is, why should Men care?
Why should they take radical responsibility?
The fact is, Men and Women aren’t as disconnected as they are often presented.
Men don’t stand alone. Men need Women.
When it comes down to it, Men do give a shit about Women.
After all, you (Men) have mothers, sisters, wives whose needs you internalise, female friends you want to see on Forbes, daughters slowly but surely trudging into a financial world that is steeped in disparity.
In fact, these familial ties with Women are already making moves in waking Men up to their own responsibility.
Male CEOs within the S&P 500 that have daughters have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating almost 10% higher than other large firms in the US (Kim, K. 2017).
Social responsibility means wanting fairness.
Social responsibility means giving a shit.
Social responsibility is a first stepping stone to radical responsibility.
Albeit, in an ideal world, we needn’t wait for our male bosses to make babies in order to start giving a shit about equal opportunity in the company.
After all, the opportunity is huge: female-founded companies deliver twice as much revenue per dollar invested (European Investment Bank).
But if it’s the adolescent female offspring of said VC boards, who are putting in the shift, then all power to you. We’ll take what we can get.
A Man showing his face, questioning the status quo, and joining the ride?
We’ll take that too.
At the Global Collective our aim is to harness the superiority of Men and Women as a collective, as opposed to isolated entities. We are building an ecosystem for male led investment firms to connect with Women-led businesses to take strides in the march towards equal opportunity.