HeForShe and achieving gender equality is “not about men coming to the rescue of women” Chuck Stephens, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, EMEA at Google said recently.
In an interview with WeAreTheCity he shared his views on why he is in support of the United Nation’s (UN) HeForShe campaign, which encourages boys and men to become more involved in the gender equality debate.
Stephens also a Board Director and Trustee on the UN Women National Committee UK which creates, understands, and spreads awareness of women’s issues across the world.
Speaking to WeAreTheCity he said he believes that equality will be achieved through men being more engaged in the gender debate and working together to find a solution.
Stephens said that some men have stayed away from the gender conversation or have felt that they couldn’t or shouldn’t join a women’s network for example. But now we see a lot of men making a concerted effort to stand together with women and to join the dialog both in women’s networks and beyond. Spaces have been created where men can join in, learn, and become champions for advancing gender equality alongside their female colleagues. A caution however, some men are going to need to be given a bit of space to say things that might not always land right at first but where they can say enough to show they are in supportive.”
“It’s not about men coming to the rescue of women, but being more engaged with the women to find equality. Gender equality benefits us all.”
He noted that the challenges women in the workplace face are not always obvious to men, but that men should try and make more of an effort to understand them: “A fish doesn’t know it’s in water. Men know their reality, but may not realise that their reality is not everyone’s. It’s about understanding that things are not as obvious to everyone, for example I’m a big guy and I don’t ever worry about travelling or feeling unsafe. That is not the reality for some women. That is not the reality for all people and sometimes it takes people a while to get out of their own headspace to understand that.”
“We all have junk that gets in the way of relationships. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does make you a bad person if you know and don’t change the way you interact with people.”
He said that diversity is not a new topic for him, but something he has always been both aware and concern about: “Most of my family are women and I started to notice, at an early age, the challenges they were running into in the world. Sometimes they were subtle like the way someone looks or speaks to you, but when added together it becomes something bigger.”
“I was previously working at a family run business – not my family – which was run by all sons and only had one female colleague. I found myself immersed in the ‘Boys Club’ and realised that if I had ‘Come Out’ there my career wouldn’t have ended, but it would have stopped progressing. Instead I moved to Deloitte and became diversity champion. They were eager to have more white men involved in the diversity debate, and not just a discussion between the underrepresented groups.”
Stephens said that diversity is crucial to running of Google: “It’s about being able to create solutions at Google that resonate around the world. In order to do that you need to unify the people that mirror the communities in your market.”