22 November 2022

Men's wellbeing in the workplace - Matt Duncan

At Carbon, we believe that it is important for all our employees to be heard, supported, and have a voice. As an employer, it is important to us that we understand and are equipped to deal with the issues that individuals and groups face in today’s society, giving confidence to our team that we are there for them, as they are for our clients.

Earlier this year, we ran a campaign for International Women’s Day featuring our female employees at all levels of the business. In the spirit of equality and encouraging all employees to speak out about challenges and barriers they are looking to overcome, we have spoken to some male colleagues within the business to get their perspective.

Tell me about your role with Carbon and what is involved day to day?

I’m an Associate Director with Carbon. My main responsibility is working with our clients as a Financial Planner, but I also support and coach our trainee and junior colleagues to support their career ambitions and personal development. My other responsibilities include being a member of the Wellbeing Team and the Tech Team, which help support and improve those areas of our business.

What has been your career experience to date?

I’ve worked with Carbon since leaving university nine years ago. I studied finance at university and went on to do a Masters degree which had a focus on evidence-based investing and that piqued my interest in financial planning. I became aware of Carbon after my colleague Barry did a presentation at my university and I applied to join the graduate programme. I worked my way through the programme and have progressed my career with Carbon ever since.

What are the key issues facing men at the moment and why do you think it is important that they are highlighted?

Speaking from personal experience, I have recently started a family and I’m the proud Dad of our 16-month-old daughter, Ailsa. It is really important to me that I take the role of an “equal” parent and not the traditional “Dad” role from years gone by. Some men can find balancing a career with being active in their children’s lives challenging, especially with the balance in society traditionally being tipped towards mothers as primary care givers. I think it's important that this is challenged as there are now all sorts of different family arrangements across society. Working patterns that work perfectly for one family, might be impossible for another.

As an employer, what support do Carbon give their employees who are potentially facing challenges?

Juggling work and Dad-life is challenging. However, I’m fortunate that as with many roles these days, I can work flexibly. This means I can start work a little later to allow me to do the breakfast/nursery drop-off routine with Ailsa and also collect her on the days my wife, Jane, is in the office all day.

Our Board place a lot of trust in our employees to deliver their roles where and when it is most suitable for them and for our clients. This has allowed me to be there for Ailsa and Jane when required.

I also try and model the behaviour changes I would like to see in society myself as an example to other. For example, if I have a family appointment, nursery pick-up etc. I put it in my diary where it is visible. By doing this, I hope I’m showing other men that I work with that it perfectly ok and normal to have an active family role and it doesn’t have to impact career progression.

What else could be changed in society to better support men to speak out about any issues and difficulties they are facing?

Anything that can get men talking and opening up a little bit more. Whether it is about having more men visible as primary caregivers for children or talking about other subjects such as mental health, we need to showcase different experiences of what being modern man can look like. One thing that I believe really helps with this is high profile men speaking about mental health so it’s great to see more of that in the media these days.

What men have had a positive influence on you, both in your career and personal life?

My Dad has had a huge impact on my life. I often ask his advice on a whole host of topics and know I can chat to him about anything. My late Grandad also had a great impact on me. I remember how calm and caring he always was. He has also left me with a lifelong love of Aberdeen F.C. for which I am hugely grateful (most of the time…!).

What do you do to stay mentally healthy?

Sport is really important to me; I enjoy playing five-a-side football when I can as well as spending time with family and friends. I also try my best to compartmentalise my work life and home life so when I’m working, I’m being the best Financial Planner I can be and when I’m with my family, I’m being the best Dad/husband I can be. I make sure to take regular holidays throughout the year as I think it’s important we all take time to enjoy family time, hobbies etc outside work. This also means that I am more focused when I am at work and helps me avoid burning out.

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