The book's structure is built around conversations with men discussing various workplace practices and situations, which being familiar to me as a male rang true. The premise was inviting and moments into the introduction I was hooked. I think I realised right from the outset that this should not be a quick read - the ideas and challenges shared would need time for reflection and action. So I took a chapter at a sitting. You can read each of the eleven chapters in 20 minutes or so but since each ends with a summary of key points and questions to consider it’s possible to spend a similar amount of time or longer in the reflective process.
And that was what happened.
In fact days after finishing the book that reflection continues, brought back to mind by a news item or reported instance of inequitable treatment. Of course reflection is one thing but the challenge is not to remain silent and to take action. Is writing a blog post joining the conversation?
The author is at pains to explain why men need to be part of these equity conversations. In the United States, for example, men represent just under half of the population but occupy the majority of leadership roles in organisations; the author contends that men therefore are already in positions to make a positive difference. She revisits this point in different chapters. We are hooked alright and in the nicest possible way she is not letting us off that hook! In a compelling argument and reinforcing her point about people already in positions of influence being able to help, she cites a strategy adopted by Martin Luther King. As part of his civil rights campaign, in the background, Dr King built key relationships with people in the white “middle” who could influence change.
The style of the book is user-friendly and the tone encouraging especially when she explores with her interlocutors male reticence in taking part in equity conversations. I appreciated the subtle shifts in mindset; these guys really had something to say. The author has been able to show us that there is a lot going on below the surface; in the "bummock" as she puts it, that large part of the iceberg hidden from view.
In its later chapters the book takes aspects of an existing model for change and applies that discipline to the gender equity equation. I felt that was useful and I liked how that equation was couched in terms of mutual benefit - a win-win for organisations.
I read the book in e-format and looking back over it a moment ago I can see that I have highlighted significant portions to consider further; to memorise and to follow up. As mentioned above an extensive reference section is provided with sources detailed for each chapter. This is very well organised - meticulous. I clicked on several of the links suggested and following up on her references for the Martin Luther King strategy I spent quite a while reading articles on that from the Washington Post. All pertinent stuff. I have also signed up for newsletters and further information from some of the sites concerned. The momentum is underway.
In conclusion, I would say that this book is a call to action. A shout-out to men to break their silence. It would be a powerful resource for leaders in all types of organisations seeking to have a workplace characterised and enabled by gender equity. I imagine those with interests in personal and organisational effectiveness will gain useful insights and strategies for further development and I readily commend the book to their attention.
It has thoroughly engaged mine.
Author's website: https://www.korireed.com/
I was grateful to receive an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of Men in the Middle from NetGalley, where it is now archived. Here is a link for further information.