Richard Robinson first started to notice gender discrimination while studying applied education at uni. 'There were 112 female students on the course – and six men including me,’ he says. ‘On my first day of teaching practice at a primary school in Oxfordshire, a young boy came up to me and asked me what I was doing there. When I told him I was a new teacher, he said: "Misters don’t teach. You must be here to make something." I was stunned. At the age of eight, this boy had already been completely brainwashed about gender roles.’
Robinson went on to work in advertising and marketing ‘I always worked with – and for – women. I didn’t see anything unusual in that. But when I consulted for other companies in different sectors, I noticed that everyone looked just like me – white, male, middle class. It was a sea of sameness. They were getting all their talent and all their answers from one tiny portion of society. That's when I realised it was down to me, and people like me, to start calling it out, to break the cycle.’
And that’s exactly what he’s been doing. Robinson’s day job is managing partner at management consultancy Oystercatchers where he specialises in marketing performance. His parallel ‘five-to-nine job’ is an award-winning advocate for diversity and inclusion. He’s a board member of both Creative Equals and Token Man, the first male SuperMomma for SheSaysUK and, earlier this year, was named as one of MT’s male Agents of Change. ‘Whether it’s refusing to sit on all-male, all-white panels, making it your mission to only ever mentor people who look and sound different to you, or encouraging recruitment agencies to always offer diverse candidate lists for every job opportunity, we all need to push for change,’ he says.
Our mission is to unearth more men like Robinson.
And so once again, MT is teaming up with the Women’s Business Council to publish an Agents of Change power list in 2018 – shining the spotlight on the army of male leaders who are shattering glass ceilings and nurturing the female talent of tomorrow.
‘Making sure women can achieve their full potential is not only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business,’ comments Women and Equalities Minister Anne Milton, who is backing the Agents of Change campaign. ‘We have made great progress, including introducing shared parental leave and flexible working helping mothers back into the workplace when their children are still young. But we know there is more to do. We will only achieve full equality in the workplace if we all work together to tackle the barriers that hold women back.
‘That’s why we must celebrate the efforts of those men who are already operating as trailblazers within their organisations, championing women and encouraging good workplace practices. I really hope this inspires others to follow their lead.’
If you're an Agent of Change, or if you'd like to nominate a male boss, colleague or friend, please fill in the (simple) form below – the closing date for entries is 19th January, 2017. You just need to provide a short biography, a photograph and a 300-word citation on why you should be named an Agent of Change. Our power list will be published on Management Today next March.