Mash Media MD Julian Agostini reflects on the need for education to change attitudes towards women. 

You’ve changed. We’ve all been the recipient of that remark and it’s rarely meant as a compliment. A lot of people get defensive and suggest that they haven’t changed or maybe reverse the comment….’it’s not me who’s changed’ but, it’s quite strange to want to remain the same.

I welcome people telling me I’ve changed; thank goodness it’s obvious. It would be awful if I was the same idiot now as I was in my 20s and 30s, or even my 40s and 50s some might say (haven’t reached the next one yet).

Recent events, both in our industry and the world at large, have been a stark reminder that progress is slow in getting men to understand how to behave and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. It’s incredible that we’re still in this place but we have to admit that we are if we’re going to go any way to solving the problem.

In years gone by, I would have been cynical about some of the measures brought in to affect change; perhaps calling them over the top or even ridiculous. For example, the recent banning of singing the song Delilah by Tom Jones, prior to Welsh rugby matches, would have been a measure that I would have scoffed at, but I get it now.

The lyrics tell the story of violence against a woman justified because the man was jealous. The problem for society is that, certainly my generation and some beyond have grown up with so many similar messages and influences that we don’t even realise how much they have shaped our outlook.

The sensible people want the world to become a better place and, frankly, for creepy men to wise up. Yet, go to any celebratory event or even post event networking drinks and there is misplaced testosterone pouring out everywhere you care to look and it’s embarrassing.

What ends up happening in the aftermath is that people are called out, there’s a social media firestorm and two weeks later the whole thing is forgotten, nothing changes. Education, not indignation, must be the ultimate solution, that leads to a change of mindset.

My daughter was part of my education that remarks that you might think are totally harmless as a man, are stupid and insensitive; to be clear, we’re not talking Carry On levels here but nevertheless, I needed educating over the years and I get it now.

But men have to want to change and that will be uncomfortable for many on all sorts of levels. It’s so easy to minimise off-hand comments or actions but we must realise that they are a brick in the misogynist wall.

In order to get everybody to point B, we have to stretch the argument to point C and allow some push back. So, let’s support the objections that we previously might have thought to be nonsense.

Am I going too far? No, we can’t go far enough; the problem has to stop and it starts with men. If you don’t think you are part of the problem, we’ll never solve it. Perhaps I’m an idealist but I urge you to educate yourselves and the men around you so hopefully, bit by bit, we will all change for the better.

Here are some educational resources that can help guide your workforce to behave more equitably:

Interrupting sexism at work

Five ways to improve gender equality in the workplace

The Council of Europe guidance on stopping sexism