Meet Our Allies: Interview with Paolo Zeppetelli
Since its launching in 1999, International Men’s Day is celebrated annually on November 19. The Day aims to celebrate positive male role models and to raise awareness of men’s health issues which are often overlooked. In the belief that true gender equality can be achieved through mutual respect and understanding between women and men, WE Int. presents a short interview series that highlights passionate male advocates for women’s empowerment.
Our first interviewee is Paolo Zeppetelli, HR service delivery lead for Barclays back office.
Our Co-Founder, Yuki Nakao, met Paolo at One Young World 2019 in London, and exchanged views on how men could be further incorporated in gender equality initiatives. Paolo holds British and Italian citizenship and currently resides in London.
Hi Paolo, could you tell the readers about yourself? What is your passion and how was that brought about?
My passion is for men and women of all backgrounds, ages and abilities to feel that they are heard and involved equally and inclusively in all spheres of life, whether it be in the workplace or family. Research has made it very clear that when you ensure diversity and inclusivity in all situations, decision-making and engagement amongst everyone involved will be healthy and sustainable in the long run. My background is British Italian (born in the UK but raised from parents grown up in Italy). My passion for diversity and inclusion stems from observing both my parents treating each other equally and inclusively in their discussions and behaviors, and of course in bringing up me and my brother.
Where and how did you learn about WE Int.? What was your impression when you learn what the organization does?
I learnt about WE Int. when I met Yuki at the One Young World summit in London last week (the summits was held between October 22-25). I was impressed to learn about the organisation that was proactively making an effort to engage and incorporate men to be part of its gender-equality efforts.
You are a very keen advocate of women’s empowerment. Did you have a specific experience that led you to be as you are?
I have three specific experiences that led me to this topic. Firstly, observing and being brought up to watch both of my parents empower each other. Secondly, having mostly female friends at university. I was able to frequently observe and talk about moments where my female friends felt / were disempowered in various ways. Lastly, from working in Barclays diversity & Inclusion team for almost four years, I was involved in many gender equality initiatives (such as our male allies programme) as well as research on the benefits of women’s empowerment in the workplace and the society, and the role of men in this effort. I think men generally approach the issue of gender equality differently from women, and I think this difference is important rather than disadvantageous.
What kind of changes do you want to see in terms of gender equality and women’s status? How do you think WE Int. can contribute to making those changes happen?
The changes I would like to see is a willingness on both genders to use gender intelligence* as a way of taking time to understand and think from the perspective of the opposite gender. This is the key to gaining trust, understanding and mutual respect for each other when working together as allies in various environments, such as the workplace, school or family / home. I think WE Int. can provide this space of mutual respect as well as a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive environment where all genders feel empowered to discuss with and become role models for one another to promote gender equality.
*If you would like to read up more about gender intelligence, I would definitely recommend a book by John Gray & Barba Annis titled Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business.