“These DEI efforts don't benefit me,” a white man once said to me during one of our workshops on how to interrupt your bias when evaluating talent. “Sure, I come to these conversations because I have to. But I know the drill, it's usually the white men who are to blame for everything that's gone wrong in our companies.”
As we continued our conversation, I asked him why he felt that way. Was there something in the workshop materials or something the facilitator did or said? Did he have feedback on what we could have done differently?
“No one said or did anything that upset me. But I honestly don't even know what to say or do anymore. One time I raised my hand and asked if someone could explain what pronouns were and the woke police came after me,” he said. “So I tend to just keep my mouth shut and sit in the back and scroll on my phone. It's clear my voice as a white man doesn't count anymore.”
Over the course of my career, I have coached many white men. I still consider many of them to be great leaders, career sponsors, allies in our organizations, and friends who have supported me in the highs and lows of my career. Many of them have started to educate themselves and are more involved in their companies' diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts because they see how much I care. So they are curious to learn and do more. Many of them are motivated to be a more inclusive leader for the women ...