Conversations of Hope, Heart, and the Human Spirit
with Ray Arata
Hummingbird Humanity videos now with captioning.
In this episode, Brian and Ray cover. . .
- What is the role of cisgender straight white men in diversity, equity, and inclusion work?
- Healthy masculinity in the workplace.
- The process of allyship.
Where do cisgender straight white men fit in DEI work?
Cisgender: People who are cisgender are not transgender, their gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender straight white men belong in DEI work. Oftentimes, there is an unfair responsibility placed on women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people to solely do DEI work because they are the ones bearing the weight of things like sexism, racism, and homophobia. Brian and Ray believe it is the responsibility of cisgender straight white men to change toxic cultures into safe, welcoming ones because they are the majority of decision-makers in corporate America. To do this, cisgender straight white men need to embark on opportunities to listen to others. With the permission of women, Ray attended women’s conferences. He didn’t come in as a spectator or a speaker, only as a learner. The powerful lessons learned in these spaces provided Ray the tools he needed to use his privilege to address inequities in the workforce.
Ray found that cisgender straight white men tend to be more receptive to other cisgender straight white men when it comes to talking about issues around inclusion. With the guidance of people from marginalized communities, cisgender straight white men can challenge other cisgender straight white men to be vulnerable leaders.
What is healthy masculinity?
Healthy masculinity is the rejection of outdated norms of masculinity like the idea of the “alpha male”. These constructs, instead of making men feel brave and empowered, often boxes men in to specific interests, professions, and roles, and doesn’t give them the ability to be themselves and grow. Brian mentioned as a gay man consistently feeling left out of male communities. As a straight man, Ray experienced the same feeling of being left out because of his desire to show vulnerability.
Healthy masculinity is men embracing other men to share their shortfalls, fears, and to be human. The concept of healthy masculinity creates authentic communities which uplift the diverse perspectives of gay men, men of color, transgender men, and so many others. Ray tells us that he encourages this mentality by leading by example to make other men feel comfortable to show healthy masculinity. Vulnerable leaders produce better results.
Steps of Allyship
Ray uses a 4-step framework to coach allies at the Better Man Conference called the Allies Journey:
- Acknowledge that you have bias and privilege. Take responsibility for the impact of your bias and privilege. Explore intention v.s impact.
- Listen with empathy and compassion. Make the journey from the head to the heart.
- Commit to new practices and behaviors.
- Ray suggests Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility as a resource to navigate these steps. Fragility is not a place to stop if you want to be a better man or a better forever ally in training.
Ray Arata is finding ways to bring men into the diversity, equity, and inclusion conversation through leadership development. A simultaneous low point in his career and his personal life put Ray on a two-decade-long journey of helping men lead with vulnerability instead of fear. Ray advances his work through his book Wake Up, Man Up, Step Up: Transforming Your Wake-Up Call Into Emotional Health and Happiness and his co-founded allyship building collective, The Better Man Conference. The success of his book and his program have transformed the lives and leadership styles of thousands of men within the private sector.
Ray is inspired every day to teach the world about healthy masculinity by his close relationship with his ex-wife and three adult children. Healthy masculinity is one of the crucial ingredients to creating impactful allyship for marginalized people. Ray fervently aims to be forever an ally in training.