By his own admission, Daniele Fiandaca is the very definition of privilege: white, male, straight, middle class and privately educated. As Founder of Creative Social he often spoke about issues facing the creative industry including the lack of gender diversity. However it took an incident at a dinner party before he felt the full weight of what that meant.
The dinner had been organised by a friend as a way for Daniele to meet with more female Creative Directors and encourage them to join Creative Social but at the dinner he found himself in the minority, lacking confidence and even cut off when speaking.
“There were conversations happening that I had no affinity to. For the first time in my life I realised what it was like to be on the outside, what came out of that was a really distinct sense of understanding and being horrified by what it must be like to be a woman in a senior position in the boardroom, where unfortunately they are quite commonly in the minority,” Daniele said.
He began to reevaluate his own behaviours and consider how certain actions would affect his female colleagues. He recognised how their experience at work was comparable to his experience at the dinner. With a new perspective, he began having more conversations with female friends. He says these conversations were crucial in giving him a more thorough understanding of the issue of diversity or ‘out groups’.
He recalls one specific example when chatting to a friend, Emma, around the gender pay gap. Daniele suggested that women choosing to take maternity leave could be a possible factor, to which she replied “it’s interesting that you think it’s a choice.” The openness of the discussion really resonated with Daniele.
“The point is she didn’t ram it down my throat, she made me think, she made me go out and find out about it”, he said.
Daniele believes that often men don’t feel comfortable adding their voice to the issue for fear of getting shut down. While he acknowledges the need to correct or abhor offensive or stupid comments, he questions the effect such vehemence has on men entering the discussion at all.
“Token Man was set up to create a safe space to have these conversations and get more men involved. Get men to ask simple questions, to improve their education and get a better understanding of the challenges women face. Get them to become part of the solution not the problem.”
Creative Social Florence (2008) by Pablo Marques
What does that solution entail?
More transparency, more discussion and less finger pointing. He believes discussion around who is responsible for the gender pay gap poses one of the biggest challenges to change as pay discrepancies often stem from a lack of women in senior roles. When this is the case he says individuals shouldn’t be responsible for what their colleagues are paid.
“I think, the challenge you’ve got is that if I manage my career as best I can and at any point I’m earning more than my counterparts, that’s not my fault. It’s a fault of the system”, he said.
We need to get people, men, to understand the system so that they can then change it. “This is about more than doing the right thing this is about what makes the best business sense,” he added.