Thursday 19 November marks International Men’s Day (IMD), the purpose of which is “to encourage men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man”. With the IMD’s theme of “better health for men and boys” we asked RLB colleagues globally how we raise awareness around breaking the stigma around men’s health, how we continue to lead by example, and recognise behaviours and role models for advocating change.
How do you look after yourself physically and mentally?
We all know that looking after your wellbeing – particularly this year when there have been so many global stresses and anxieties – is key. So how do we do this?
For Jonathan Lloyd, Project Manager from the UK, it is linking the physical to the mental by keeping fit. For Qasim Khattak, UK Cost Manager “sleeping, eating well and praying/meditation affects my performance both at work and in all other aspects of life”. And Steve Gillingham, Head of National Commissions in the UK, commented, “I am surrounded by a warm and loving extended family. They are my mental health reservoir”. Chief Executive of RLB UK, Andrew Reynolds, also talked about the importance of maintaining good mental health, “having experienced mental health issues at points in my life, I now understand and think about my mental wellbeing a lot more, to assess my state, mood and most importantly what are the triggers for me that affect my mental health. Physically, I try to maintain a healthy balance of exercise and eating, I also ensure I have an outlet to rebalance my mental wellbeing. I love comedy and laughing and find this a real leveller for me. I also love the arts, music, and performance. These are very different to the things that occupy my professional life”.
What is the greatest advice you have received regarding looking after yourself?
From mothers to football managers, the RLB team has taken some great advice when it comes to looking after themselves. “Learning that it’s ok to be selfish sometimes,” commented Jonathan Lloyd, “attack the day”, suggested Tom Hodgkins, Apprentice Building Surveyor, “a healthy outside starts on the inside,” said Associate at RLB UK, Patrick Kisz. This sentiment was echoed by Managing Partner for Yorkshire and Humber, Matt Summerhill, who comments, “listen to your body”. And Steve Gillingham’s outlook reflect principles that are at the core of RLB to “take time to have fun and feel valued”.
Do you think there still is a taboo around men’s health, if so, how do we break it?
Every respondent felt that there was still a stigma around men talking about their mental health with the ethos of “man up” and “get over it” still in existence. However, they also felt there is a shift driven by campaigns to raise awareness of male mental health, which Jonathan Lloyd observed, “have been really positive in starting conversations and showing the softer side of ‘manly’ guys”. Andrew Reynolds commented on the “macho persona of invincibility of old” and how at last it is now being seriously challenged. He comments, “I was informed once that we need support much earlier than perhaps we think we do when issues arise and not acting early can lead to more significant health outcomes. I took this as ‘be aware, seek support early”. Matt Summerhill summed up the overall sentiment, “first and foremost, we have to be kinder to ourselves and each other”.
How can we lead by example and be better role models in the industry?
Nicolas Sheard, CEO of RLB Pentad in South Africa gave his advice on how businesses can work together to ensure that companies treat individuals just as that, rather than based on gender, sexuality, age or social backgrounds. “Evaluate your job specifications to see if you have barriers in place that stop those worthy from reaching roles that are more senior. Promote a better work-life balance for all employees.” Patrick Kisz elaborated on what many of the respondents noted, “I believe we all have a part to play in inspiring the next generation of surveyors. By visiting our schools and educating the workforce of the future about what the life of a surveyor can be like, we can help to inspire more people to enter careers in our industry and defy stereotypes”.
What examples of support and mentoring do you see in your working life?
There were lots of suggestions when it came to how to support and advocate change that many at RLB and others within the industry are already undertaking – from building an inclusive workplace, proactively sourcing a diverse talent pipeline, to providing teams with unconscious bias training. As Steve Gillingham commented, “It seems to me that most of the success comes from the approach and engagement of those involved. If it’s well planned, thoughtful and authentic – it has a chance of helping”.
And finally, how would you recognise the role men play in progressing our industry and leading by example?
“I would like to recognise the role so many men are playing in the workplace going on to correct historic inequality in our industry and building a future of diversity and inclusivity for all,” Andrew Reynolds concludes. “This variety of differing skills and experiences also allows our employees to learn from one another, and develop creative solutions” says Paul Brussow, Executive Vice President of North America.
And Nicolas Sheard continues this theme by talking about how “diversity and inclusion in the workplace cause employees to feel accepted and valued. When employees feel accepted and valued, they are also happier in their workplace and stay longer with a company.” Our team around the world felt we all have our part to play in making a positive difference and to support and champion those around us.
We know that as a society and as an industry we still have a way to go on our journey of allowing values, feelings and actions to be individual rather than based on what or who we might be perceived to be, yet we are making steps in the right direction. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we seek. It is only when we all, both men and women, lead by example that we will create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to prosper.” (Source: www.internationalmensday.com/)