NYC Big Book Award: GAB TALKS with Kori Reed
INCLUSION IN THE OFFICE
“Well researched and written, Reed’s work is a ‘call to arms’ for males trying to make sense of the #MeToo movement. Bravo!”
—William Carmichael, PhD, MBA,
Corporate Training Leader
“Packed with quality interviews, quotes, and Reed’s real-life experience, making this book come to life. In addition, the chapter questions and change management application make it a driver of positive change for gender equity.”
—Theresa Nordstrom, SPHR, Founder and
Chief Talent Officer, Talent Company Inc.
Nicholas said a conversation about gender equity without men did not meet the criteria for inclusion. Blake said equity is essential and will happen when we acknowledge that men face challenges too.
In Men-in-the-Middle, author Kori Reed interviews men across corporate America about gender equity in the workplace. This is a topic men can influence, as they hold nearly 75 percent of C-suite positions, but they don’t talk about it at the office. As it turns out, men have a lot to say! They are aware of the issues and the impacts and, at the same time, unsure of what to do. This uncertainty renders Men-in-the-Middle, even though they may be supporters, on the silent sidelines of gender equity.
Combining interviews with insights from secondary research, Reed seeks to provide a framework to understand this “silent majority” and shine the light on new perspectives and topics that often go undiscussed.
Men-in-the-Middle: Conversations to Gain Momentum with Gender Equity’s Silent Majority invites men and women to cultivate conversations by providing an orientation on perspective-taking and laying a foundation to move gender equity forward in a new inclusive way.
Good Reads Book Review:
“Gender has become a beautiful, complex mosaic” writes Reed (ZagZig Parenting) in this explorative analysis of gender equity from a male perspective. Drawing on interviews with “people who identify as male,” Reed admirably meets her goal to spark conversations on gender equity in the workplace. Her interviews, conducted with male business professionals, expose the hot button topic in a refreshing way, giving voice to the conversations men often avoid due to their fear of being misunderstood or their lack of empathy for the plight of women in the workforce. She highlights the #MeToo movement as a catalyst for gender-related discussions and explores the foundation of the Equal Rights Amendment, in forward-thinking language that will invite readers into the issues.
Men play a central role in changing gender dynamics in the workforce, argues Reed, especially given their overwhelming numbers in the upper echelons of corporate America. Her interviews shed light on just how many of those men support the idea of gender equality but often remain silent when it comes to progressing the cause. “We are more afraid to say anything that might offend people,” one interviewee states. “Way too many topics are completely off-limits now.” Reed explores this "spiral of silence theory" in great detail, giving men a platform to express both their support of and discomfort with the topic of gender equity. She goes beyond general conversations to more specific issues as well, including how race, life events (such as pregnancy), and miscommunication can all have significant impacts on conversations between men and women in the workplace.
"When men don’t speak about gender, we miss… an invitation to engage the very people who are in positions to influence change” Reed writes, and while she makes it clear she understands the reasoning behind their silence, she also urges men to stop “perpetuating the status quo of inequity.” This is a bold, empathetic approach to a complex topic.
Takeaway: Bold, thoughtful perspective on the complexities of gender equity in the workplace.Comparable Titles: Anneli Blundell’s When Men Lead Women, Joanne Lipman’s That’s What She Said.
The media soundscape reverberates with discussions on gender issues often emphasising equity issues in the workplace. For some reason male voices seem to be silent on the conversations that need to be had. This was one of the key observations put forward in this challenging yet engaging book by Kori Reed.
The book's structure is built around conversations with men discussing various workplace practices and situations, which being familiar to me as a male rang true. The premise was inviting and moments into the introduction I was hooked. I think I realised right from the outset that this should not be a quick read - the ideas and challenges shared would need time for reflection and action. So I took a chapter at a sitting. You can read each of the eleven chapters in 20 minutes or so but since each ends with a summary of key points and questions to consider it’s possible to spend a similar amount of time or longer in the reflective process.
And that was what happened.
In fact, days after finishing the book that reflection continues, brought back to mind by a news item or reported instance of inequitable treatment. Of course reflection is one thing but the challenge is not to remain silent and to take action. Is writing a blog post joining the conversation?
The author is at pains to explain why men need to be part of these equity conversations. In the United States, for example, men represent just under half of the population but occupy the majority of leadership roles in organisations; the author contends that men therefore are already in positions to make a positive difference. She revisits this point in different chapters. We are hooked alright and in the nicest possible way she is not letting us off that hook! In a compelling argument and reinforcing her point about people already in positions of influence being able to help, she cites a strategy adopted by Martin Luther King. As part of his civil rights campaign, in the background, Dr King built key relationships with people in the white “middle” who could influence change.
The style of the book is user-friendly and the tone encouraging especially when she explores with her interlocutors male reticence in taking part in equity conversations. I appreciated the subtle shifts in mindset; these guys really had something to say. The author has been able to show us that there is a lot going on below the surface; in the "bummock" as she puts it, that large part of the iceberg hidden from view.
In its later chapters the book takes aspects of an existing model for change and applies that discipline to the gender equity equation. I felt that was useful and I liked how that equation was couched in terms of mutual benefit - a win-win for organisations.
I read the book in e-format and looking back over it a moment ago I can see that I have highlighted significant portions to consider further; to memorise and to follow up. As mentioned above an extensive reference section is provided with sources detailed for each chapter. This is very well organised - meticulous. I clicked on several of the links suggested and following up on her references for the Martin Luther King strategy I spent quite a while reading articles on that from the Washington Post. All pertinent stuff. I have also signed up for newsletters and further information from some of the sites concerned. The momentum is underway.
In conclusion, I would say that this book is a call to action. A shout-out to men to break their silence. It would be a powerful resource for leaders in all types of organisations seeking to have a workplace characterised and enabled by gender equity. I imagine those with interests in personal and organisational effectiveness will gain useful insights and strategies for further development and I readily commend the book to their attention.
It has thoroughly engaged mine.
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