The angry white male – is not who you think

by May 22, 2016

The angry white male – is right next to you

angry white male

Angry white male

The angry white male has been a hot topic recently.  In the media he is characterized by an uneducated demographic mobilized by Trump in the U.S presidential campaign. Trump tapped into his frustration and vulnerability to garner support for his racist and misogynist political cause. The same applies to other populist movements throughout Europe.

He is a really nice guy

In our organizations he could not be more different. The angry white male is not obviously angry. He may not even be white.  He doesn’t rant and rave. He is highly educated, very often a senior and successful executive. He is a nice, reasonable man, funny, charming and considerate. He is a father, son, colleague, husband and boss. He sits next to you in the office or across from you in meetings. You pass him in the corridor. He will smile and say good morning. He could be your neighbour or relative.

But he is starting to feel that future opportunities may be limited and the once golden linear career trajectory does not belong exclusively to him any more. He feels threatened.

He can be defensive and obstructive about proposed changes involving diversity either passively or openly.  His mind is closed, but not always his mouth. He may see key positions going to men and women of color. He is critical because he believes that is about quotas, not competence. He is scathing about what he perceives to be excessive political correctness. He expresses concern about not hiring on merit.  In any survey he will say he believes in diversity, but it’s his colleagues who don’t. He maintains that he has never seen discrimination or sexist behavior in his career or organization. In training sessions on diversity and inclusion, he becomes impatient and might refuse to engage, ask questions sharply and cut off other speakers. He avoids hiring women aged 30-38 because of potential disruption to his department. He uses the old chestnut “cultural fit” to cut women candidates. He might write the odd snippy comment on a post.

Business case

The business case for gender balance and diversity is irrefutable. Yet resistance is remarkably high from the very group that is running our organizations.  Leaders may tick off the D & I checklist but they don’t ensure that the policy is implemented. Their companies still ask women illegal interview questions. Employees make sexist jokes.  Read: The main reasons diversity initiatives fail. 

Angry white male

Angry white male – image Mckinsey Why Diversity Matters

Men benefit

But when men support diversity everyone benefits. Men who support women at work outperform their peers. Diverse teams produce better results. Families with involved fathers are happier, healthier, and more successful. Couples who share responsibilities have stronger marriages and even more sex.

Neil Morrison wrote a post “Angry white males” where he says:

But the thing about angry white males is, you don’t beat them by trying to be more like them. You beat them by ignoring them, by marginalizing them, by going on regardless. You beat them by remaining true to yourself, to your thoughts, to your beliefs and to your dreams.

The answer is not to beat him. It is certainly not trying to be like them. But when the angry white male is in a position of authority he is hard to ignore. Somehow we have to persuade him to see the benefits, for not just for his career and the benefit to his company, but for his own personal well-being and prosperity. Read: 5 easy ways men can support women in the workplace  

Research from Catalyst says: ….”men who are seen as champions of diversity have a strong sense of fairness. Men who were committed to the ideal of fairness were found to have more personal concerns about issues of equality in general and were more aware of gender bias in the workplace and likely to take action.”

If your company need Unconscious Bias Training  contact 3Plus now


3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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