Is there a role for white men in diversity?
Do you expect a diversity and inclusion expert to be a woman or a man with brown skin or someone else from a group considered a minority in your community? In that case you may not be expecting Matthew Freeman to show up. Matthew Freeman is a white man – that’s right a white man who is committed to diversity and inclusion. In fact he’s the co-founder of TMI Consulting and a most effective diversity and inclusion specialist.
How can someone who has had all that privilege we attribute to while males possibly understand the importance of diversity and inclusion?
Matthew grew up in Richmond’s West End. His father was the pastor of a church and he went to public schools that were predominantly white.
“When I was in third grade new neighbors moved next door. They were African-American and we became best friends as we were growing up,” says Matthew. “My family encouraged my close friendship with somebody who was experiencing the world differently than I was. It opened my eyes, making me realize that our differences matter.”
That was the beginning of a journey that led him to his present work addressing discrimination in the workplace and in other groups.
“We’re trying to help people to see that diversity is not a problem to be managed,” says Matthew. “It can be challenging, but it is an asset, a good thing as many businesses, nonprofits and governments are discovering.”
“I think we need people to be able to actually share their experiences rather than just their ideologies,” says Matthew. “This is how we can learn how our experiences are different and start to really understand each other.”
Matthew practices what he preaches. He and I are a biracial couple. We work together at TMI, have written the book Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences together and we play together.
Is there room for white men in diversity and inclusion?
Absolutely!! Their experiences are another part of our diverse world.