To set the stage, the 3% movement is focused on correcting one of the issues facing marketing agencies: the lack of gender diversity in creative departments and agency leadership positions.
As a manbassador, I think addressing this issue is critical for agencies to not only be successful, but also to remain relevant.
Beyond the human-side, that it’s just the right thing to do, the simple fact is diversity is good for business. We live in a diverse world creating diverse messages for diverse audiences. If it’s a homogeneous group sitting in a room, guess what they’re going to create? They’re going to develop strategies and ideas that fit their homogeneous thinking and their beliefs. When you do that, you lose relevance. When you lose relevance, you lose business.
Being a manbassador isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a little scary. As a manbassador, no matter what you say or do, you still feel like you’re part of the problem. Therein lies the question that was recently asked to a panel of manbassadors at The 3% Conference held in Minneapolis: why aren’t more men involved and what can be done to change that?
For me, my lack of previous involvement comes down to two kinds of fear.
The first is the fear of doing it wrong. I’ve always been in support of the movement, but saying something wrong always outweighed the fear of speaking up. I thought that silent support was just fine. I thought that my own behavior and trying to do it right was enough. The logic was: if I wasn’t contributing to the problem, then, by default, I was part of the solution.
This leads me to the second fear, the fear of not doing anything at all. Fear can be paralyzing, but men must realize that the ramifications of doing nothing at all are much greater, so we need to overcome the fear of doing it wrong.
I’ve come to accept that I will do things wrong, but I need to keep trying. Fear can be paralyzing, but the motivation is right. Sure I’m going to say and do the wrong thing at times, but my actions come from a place of genuinely caring, so I hope I’ll be more right than wrong. And with every try and every mistake, I’ll learn to do more things right with the goal of making a difference, having a louder voice, and helping others overcome this fear.
The second part of the question: what can be done to get more men involved?
This question is easier to answer. Two immediate things:
First, give men less reason to fear the conversation. We know there’s an issue, we know it’s been bad and the numbers showing the massive gender inequality in creative leadership don’t lie. We aren’t trying to cover our tracks and pretend it doesn’t exist, we’re trying to change the future and to do that we need to move beyond complaining about the problem and focusing on what we do to solve it. That’s why The 3% Movement exists in the first place and why we wanted to bring it to Minneapolis. The movement is about giving the conversation the platform it deserves and an environment to change things for the better.
Second, let’s go back to the second fear: the fear of not doing anything at all. To get more men past this fear, there needs to be honest conversation and constructive feedback. It really is behavior modification. Sure, tell us when we step out of line or say the wrong thing, but also let us know when we’re doing it right. Many of us are a bit gun-shy on the topic, but we want to be part of the conversation, we want to learn, and, trust me, none of us want to put our foot in our mouth over and over again.
Lastly, I would guess there are a lot of men out there who would/could be manbassadors. They need a push. They need an invitation to become part of the movement. They need help on where and how to start. One part of changing the number “3%” is inviting men into the conversation, getting them involved in making a change. Part of the solution to the gender diversity equation needs to be women asking men to help. Be specific. Ask for mentorship or sponsorship. Simply ask. I would be willing to bet that you’d be surprised how receptive men would be. By asking, you’re inviting men to become manbassadors.
Read the article on WOBI here