Affinity celebrations often serve as a moment in time for us to come together, honour diverse histories and celebrate progress. But are we truly knowledgeable about what we’re actually celebrating? The road to genuine inclusivity and positive change isn’t paved solely with good intentions, it’s cemented with understanding and continuous learning.
In our previous article on affinity celebrations, we shared the paramount importance of accountability. When individuals, and organisations, acknowledge their role and embrace the responsibility of genuine inclusivity, they begin a deeper journey of learning. This next phase is pivotal: delving into the ‘what’. Only with a genuine understanding of the essence, the history, the stories and the facts behind these celebrations can we truly give them the reverence they deserve. It’s this knowledge that transforms our gestures from mere tokenism to meaningful tributes.
To build awareness, two elements are key: the emotional power of storytelling, and hard facts and statistics. Personal narratives highlight the human experience, making abstract concepts tangible and relatable – they allow us to walk in another’s shoes. Facts and statistics provide the evidence, grounding and urgency that can validate those emotions and drive more systematic or strategic actions. Alone, each is powerful; combined, they form a formidable force for education, enlightenment and engagement. By intertwining lived realities with hard facts, we ensure a holistic understanding, leading to both compassion and informed advocacy.
Founded in the early 1990s, International Men’s Health Day is more than just an acknowledgement of men. It’s an inclusive recognition of all male-identifying individuals, championing the distinct health challenges they face. This celebration isn’t merely about ‘men’s health’ in a broad sense. Instead, it focuses on addressing specific health issues that plague men and boys, from the physical to the mental and emotional weight of societal expectations and toxic masculinity. Some might argue that, given the systemic privileges many men enjoy, such a day may seem redundant. However, in the quest for equity, it’s crucial to address the silent struggles that often go unnoticed due to these very privileges. By enhancing our awareness and dispelling myths, we can foster an environment where everyone’s challenges are acknowledged, without diminishing the importance of one over the other.
In the corporate sphere, and even in wider society, we can sometimes view these celebrations as mere agenda points. But, if we stop, dive deep and unravel the ‘what’, we begin to see the broader picture. Awareness ensures that our engagement with affinity celebrations is not only authentic but also educative.
Just a few of the many statistics that create a compelling reason to act:
So, what can you do to turn intent in to action this International Men’s Health Day (and beyond)?
Myth-Busting Series: Launch a digital campaign to debunk common misconceptions about men’s health and societal roles. For instance, address myths like ‘Men don’t cry’ or ‘All men should man up’. Utilise both data and personal testimonies to challenge these stereotypes.
Interactive Workshops on Navigating Societal Expectations: Workshops aimed at exploring the evolution of masculinity and societal pressures, encouraging participants to delve into topics like redefining success, modern fatherhood and embracing emotional expression.
Allyship Workshops: Focused sessions that provide an overview of men’s mental health challenges, combined with empathy-building activities, testimonies and actionable strategies for attendees to become effective allies in supporting men’s wellbeing.
What really matters: Get your people to share the subjects that matter to them, that they want to hear more about, either through an interactive whiteboard or physical voting in office locations. This will help you identify what topics are most relevant to your workforce.
Ask the experts: Bring in external speakers or charities to speak to your people about common men’s health challenges, helping break down barriers and misconceptions – and providing all employees with the chance to find out more about health issues that may face them or a loved one.
Story sessions: Create an open forum for anyone who has experienced a health issue (mental, physical, social or financial) to share their stories. This could be done as a panel discussion or even a facilitated, psychologically safe, anonymous listening experience.
If you find yourself seeking guidance on navigating the complexities of affinity days or wish to enhance your engagement, we can help. Whether it’s crafting myth-busting campaigns, organising workshops, fostering allyship, addressing pertinent topics identified by your workforce or bringing in experts to share insights, we’ve got the expertise to support. Get in touch.
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