Dear Taller Than Average White Man:
At a time when there is much (well-intentioned, but generally ineffective) focus on developing women and minorities, we understand you may be feeling overlooked, under-appreciated and neglected.
And while it’s true that you are so much more likely to be promoted and better-paid than, say, a shorter than average Asian woman, we understand that this is not your fault. You did not ask to be born white, male, and taller than average. You did not make the social rule that, when I say the word “CEO” out loud, most people will think of someone who looks like you. This is simply the burden you bear.
We understand how frustrating it must be to not see Atlantic Business Magazine dedicate an issue to “White, Taller Than Average Men in Leadership”, as they did to women in business. I mean — how discriminatory is that? Really? When it comes to business, leadership, sports, culture and world affairs, where are the white, taller than average male voices??? Where are they?
I can also imagine that it must be awkward for you when the discussion turns to the topic of promoting more women and minorities into senior leadership roles, or how to make your work culture more inclusive. In these moments, we completely get how you might feel uncomfortable or unable to contribute to the discussion. And we understand how being silenced or marginalized in this way might cause you to doubt yourself.
And in those moments where you discover that there is a big charity Zumba tournament coming up and everyone who is anyone in your industry will be there, and for the sake of your career you need to be there but you’ve been so busy taking care of kids and aging parents that you weren’t able to practice Zumba that much and now you’ll show up on the dance floor and hold your team back because your Zumba skills are awful. We totally get it because that’s how so many of us feel about those stupid golf tournaments.
We get it. It’s not as easy to be a taller than average white male as everyone thinks. There are so many opportunities to feel silenced, outnumbered or marginalized when it comes to the topic of promoting more women and minorities into leadership roles. So for this reason, we have prepared this simple tip sheet of easy to follow, practical ways you can get involved. You’ll be greatly relieved to know that none of these tips involve you wearing a pink hat with ears, nor do any include explicit references to cats and grabbing back (we get that not all taller than average white males are the same. We get it.)
1. Find a non-white-taller-than-average-man in your organization to sponsor
Women and minorities NEED your sponsorship if we are to reach our full potential. We need you throwing our names in the hat for the big jobs. We need you to make introductions for us. We need you to take us under your longer than average wing.
2. Attend at least one event that is designed for women or minorities this year
Experiencing what it’s like to be a minority in your own community will be healthy for you. Plus, as one of the few taller than average white men in the room you will receive so much attention that your initial feelings of being overlooked and underappreciated in today’s world will soon vanish.
3. Take note of every time you attend a meeting comprised of only white, taller than average men
Just observe the frequency of this occurrence. Consider how this is possible in a workforce that is 50 per cent women, inside one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world. And then ask yourself why I wrote you this letter.