I was flicking through my iPhone looking for something else, and I came across a picture that I took in Parliament Square of the statue of Millicent Fawcett. She is holding a banner that says “courage calls to courage everywhere”. The irony wasn’t lost on me. On International Men’s Day we often focus on our need to face our personal fears and to have the courage to be more open or just talk!. I often get asked why do we need so many ‘special’ events, you know ‘Women’s Day’, ‘Black History Month’ usually followed swiftly by some ironic quip. We know they help to highlight particular causes that may otherwise go unnoticed or get overlooked especially in the workplace.
“But men are hardly a minority group in the workplace”, I hear you shout. Not exactly but just like any other group of people, the human group known as ‘men’ is made up of individuals who also have causes that can go unnoticed in the workplace. Often with devastating effect. Sadly, around three-quarters of all suicide cases in the UK are male.
Traditionally men have been brought up, in many cases, not all, to be resilient. As boys we were told to “get up and get on with it” when we fell, it was “don’t cry” or “don’t be a baby!”. We are also told how we have to be strong for the benefit, and protection, of others around us. Now we are learning that this deeply entrenched, often unconscious belief can be flawed and have enormous consequences.
It’s great that on International Men’s Day we have a chance to highlight many aspects of male life but it is true that there is a growing emphasis on mental health, the need for us to have the courage to be more open and the need to understand and discuss some of our deeply held beliefs.
Why? Well because it can get in the way of effective business and much more importantly it can get in way of life itself!
So yes, on International Men’s Day we should take heed of Millicent Fawcett, the feminist icon and campaigner for women’s suffrage, especially her banner and allow ‘courage to call to courage everywhere’.
Jeremy Lewis is a Senior Training Consultant at PDT Global