What is #MeToo Cultural Leadership?

Updated: Apr 21, 2018

The Male #MeToo Response model (figure 2) leverages The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC TM). The IDC identifies one’s reaction to cultural commonalities and similarities along a spectrum of Denial to Adaptation. I introduce this model to help men and women reflect on their reaction to the #MeToo movement and adopt appropriate practices, policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment and foster female empowerment.

More than one-half a million individuals have taken The Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®), an assessment tool that measures one’s stage along the IDC. Of those individuals, 2-3% are at a stage of Denial regarding cultural commonalities and differences. If I can apply this percentage to the cultural issue of gender, I would hypothesize that very few men believe that gender differences do not exist and are not significant. Men factor gender into their behavior. #MeToo is highlighting that male behaviors are socialized, and many times flawed, and harmful towards women. I offer that a Denial cultural response to the #MeToo movement would look like men saying they don't see a problem, or possibly avoiding, or talking about avoiding, women.

More men, maybe roughly 13 – 14%, may find themselves at a stage of Polarization, where the thought of the #MeToo movement, or women’s empowerment, motivates them to either not change their behavior because they see nothing wrong with it, or to aid women in adapting to the existing, male, cultural norms in the workplace. While this mindset might be viewed as progress from denial, it is a mindset that maintains the status-quo, is paternal, and does not involve a significant change or adaptation in male behavior towards women. It is a mindset that is not attempting to respect the female agency and autonomy that Professor Kimmel recommends as a benchmark.

Even more men, maybe as many as 65 – 70% if the IDI assessment results can serve as a guide, might view themselves as feminists, or #MeToo champions because they treat women as they themselves would want to be treated. This Minimization treatment is the “golden rule.” At this stage, a man may profess: “I don’t see gender, I just see people, and I treat all people with respect.” However, women are different than men in significant ways, and thus, to treat women as if they were men, or as if gender does not play a role in the workplace, would be to ignore, or devalue an essential portion of female humanity, and result in workplace cultures not truly empowering for women.

To move from a stage of Minimization to Acceptance in the #MeToo movement, men must ask themselves questions such as: What about me, and my behaviors, prevent women from reaching their full potential; How do my behaviors foster a culture that disrespects women and limits their opportunities? Men must ask women these questions, and listen respectfully, reflectively, empathetically and constructively to their responses. Maybe 13-14% of men are at this stage. It is the stage depicted in my LIFO model as Align intent and impact by discussing what behavior(s) by me, and mindset by you, is modeling a partnership in creating work environments respectful of women and that empower women.”

After this discussion — with women — men can model the appropriate Adaptive behaviors. IDI assessments suggest that about 2-3% of people are at the Adaptation stage towards cultural commonalities and differences. At this stage, men effectively partner with women to model behaviors and adopt policies, practices, and procedures that respect, empower and advance women. Again, they can do this because they are actively listening and learning from women

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