Six reasons why your business should be planning to mark International Men’s Day!

International Men's Day, group of men having a meeting, group on men working together, IMD 2022

Article by Daniele Fiandaca, Founder, Token Man

This month, we will be marking International Men’s Day (which falls on 19 November every year) for the fifth year in a row with our Masculinity in the Workplace (MIW) event.

This is one of the few events in the UK which is aimed specifically at engaging men with Inclusion and Diversity.

It still amazes me how few companies have a specific part of their inclusion and diversity strategy that is focused wholly on getting men engaged with Inclusion and Diversity. The fact is that no minority has affected change without the support of the majority. While women are clearly not in the minority in the workplace, unfortunately they still are under represented in the senior leadership positions of too many companies. IMD is the perfect opportunity to get men engaged and bring to the forefront some of the very real issues men are facing right now!

So, why do so few companies actually do something to mark IMD? The primary reason appears to be that they are afraid to be seen to specifically support men: because every day is a men’s day, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how unhelpful this statement is in the context of our vision to create more inclusive and diverse cultures. How can we say that Inclusion is for everyone and then moan about a day that brings to the fore the issues men face? Here are my reasons/beliefs why corporates should be marking International Men’s Day:

Men are Intersectional

Daniele Fiandaca IMD illustration

Yes of course life has been so much easier for me as a white straight cis gender privately educated neurotypical man without disabilities. But what about a black man with a disability? Or a neurodivergent trans man? Or a single father who is the primary care giver? Can you really say that everyday is their day? As the African-American Audre Lorde once said “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not lead single issue lives.”

The patriarchy harms almost everyone

We have seen through our MIW research the negative impact that the current system has on men. 47% of our respondents in 2020 thought men are taught to suppress their feelings and 49% thought men are taught to not be vulnerable. Also 47% of our respondents thought men were pressured to be the breadwinner while 51% are pressured to put work first. It’s no surprise then that 87% of fathers wish they could spend more time with their children (Source: CALM & Huffington Post).

Men are currently facing an identity crisis

Esther Perel, relationship expert and psychologist, summarised it brilliantly when she said “We’ve spent the past 50 years discussing what it means to be a woman. Women have examined their relationships, their identity, their sense of agency, at home and at work. And now, maybe for the first time, we’re at a moment where men could have the same opportunity to redefine themselves—but I worry that we aren’t giving men, or women, the resources they need to get there.” Wouldn’t it be fantastic to use IMD to show a positive path to what modern masculinity should look like.

Men’s Mental Health is a real issue

There is no doubt that there is a mental health crisis in the UK and men are certainly not excluded from this, with levels between men and women being very similar (Source: Perkbox, 2020 workplace stress survey). But they are far less likely to ask for support when experiencing stress. Our 2020 MIW survey showed that 68% of respondents thought men being taught to suppress their feelings negatively impacts their mental health while 63% felt that men being taught to suppress their feelings negatively impacts their mental health.

More worryingly though are the levels of suicide across the UK, where we lose 125 people to suicide every week, with 75% of them being men. (Source: CALM) This is having a significant impact on many workplaces and homes across the UK.

Mark vs Celebrate

It’s a very small but very important nuance that International Men’s Day in the UK has always been marked rather than celebrated. It is therefore very different to International Women’s Day which is all about celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. I clearly think its important that IMD does not belittle IWD and I do think this distinction helps as does the fact that IWD has really gone way beyond being a single day and will often span a couple of weeks of celebration and events.

If we can move away from that extremely reductive and non-inclusive statement of every day being a man’s day, we can start focusing on the opportunity IMD gives us to engage men with inclusion and diversity. This is ultimately how we will succeed in delivering workplaces that are inclusive and diverse. And it also gives companies the opportunity to show that when they say inclusion is for everyone, that they actually mean it!

Masculinity in the workplace event

Book your ticket to Masculinity in the Workplace 2022!

Welcome to Masculinity in the Workplace 2022, our annual event to mark International Men’s Day.

Masculinity in the Workplace aims to challenge gender stereotypes in workplace culture to enable everyone to thrive in a more inclusive and diverse world. This year we want to ask a pointed question, “What do men need to do to stay relevant in the workplace?”.

The event is for anyone who is passionate about driving gender equality in the workplace and we welcome everyone however they identify or express themselves.

Find out more and book your discounted ticket below.


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