Do you consider yourself to be a role model? The term ‘role model’ is commonly defined as someone worth imitating, based on their character or success. On the surface, a role model seems like an obviously positive concept – something to aspire to be, someone to look up to.
However, in recent conversations with colleagues, I am hearing a more frequent rejection of the term ‘role model.’ The more I have these conversations, the more it has become clear that our role models have the potential to have a negative impact. They are so far removed from reality that they’re unobtainable or they are the exception to the rule. Instead of inspiring us, they make us feel unworthy and in truth, their perfect image can be tied up with fiction.
A recent movement of ‘real models’ has caught my attention instead. These are real people who are succeeding in real ways. They are the people who are leading from example and they are really the people we can relate to.
We know that influence of other people’s behaviour on us can be huge, which is why ‘men leading by example’ is such an important theme for International Men’s Day 2018. Our Equal Lives research, in partnership with Santander UK, provides a unique insight into how men see other men when it comes to caring.
Over half (51%) of men said they would be encouraged to take up more policies designed to help people balance work and care responsibilities if men in senior roles in their organisation used such policies.
We also found that nearly a third (30%) of men with caring responsibilities said it is important for them to hear more about colleagues in managerial or senior roles who balance work and care responsibilities. Yet only 6% of them currently see these men in their organisation.
Men’s increased involvement in caring will benefit women, men and children; it will also benefit employers and the economy. Men want to care more; however, what men want and what men get in terms of family-friendly working does not always match up. Not having enough real models in place is just one reason for this.
There is more we can all do to support each other in the workplace. This International Men’s Day, think about how you can lead by example. Be honest about your experiences. Be helpful in your approach. Be a real model and you might just inspire someone else to be one too.