If We Want to Tackle Racial and Gender Inequality, Everyone Must Pitch In

by Julie Graber | on 1 Sep 2020

A recent NPR/Ipsos poll asked respondents if they had personally done anything since the death of George Floyd to better understand racial issues in the US. 

Who was the least likely to report some level of engagement? 

White respondents: 30%.

The very people who must dismantle structural racism, who must challenge their ingrained biases on a daily basis, are the very people least engaged in the work.

The numbers didn’t surprise me. Disappointing, yes, but not surprising. 

The same is true when it comes to addressing gender inequality. 

Take any survey that asks if there is still more work to be done to achieve gender equality and you’ll find that the percentage of women who agree is usually the inverse of the percentage of men who see the need.1 (Men are actually more likely to report that there is too much focus on gender equality - they’re getting tired of hearing about it). 

If men think there is no need, they aren’t going to be engaged in the work 

And we need them to be engaged in the work. In fact, men are the ones who need to do the heavy lifting when it comes to creating a more gender-inclusive world. 

Look, I know women bristle at the idea of engaging men in the cause - they want to believe that we women can do it all by ourselves.

But we can’t. If we could, we would be done it already and moved on to world peace and curing cancer. 

Men have to be engaged in the work it will take to dismantle the structures of male privilege and replace them with something better. Something that is more just.

Just like white people have to be involved in dismantling systems of racial inequality.

Who do they think created those systems and structures in the first place?

1Example: In a McKinsey/LeanIn study, women were four times more likely than men to believe that women have fewer opportunities to advance at work (43% vs. 12%). Men were eight times more likely than women to believe that women have more opportunities to advance at work (16% vs. 2%). 

Sixty-three percent of board directors now say that their investors devote too much attention to board gender diversity. (PwC Annual Corporate Directors Survey)