How can men be better allies for the advancement of women in the workplace?
Some of the greatest advancements within my career have been influenced and supported by my male counterparts, who were allies within my professional and personal growth and development. These men not only guided and mentored me, but they also supported overall gender initiatives.
For men to move the needle and help their counterparts, men need to become allies or advocates in the advancement of women in and out of today’s workplaces. But, unfortunately, a 2016 study conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org concluded, “it will take more than 100 years for the upper reaches of US corporations to achieve gender parity.”
In another study in 2019 done for Women in Workplace reported by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company showed slight progress in some areas in terms of women’s leadership, companies and men need to stay focused on efforts to make even more significant, sustainable changes.
According to Forbes, despite the many strides women have made in attaining more degrees than our male counterparts and serving as the majority of middle managers in the US workforce, men still account for 75% of all S&P 500 executive and senior-level officials. In addition, men hold 80% of S&P 500 board seats, constitute 94% of CEOs, and hold just about 80% of the seats in Congress.
Research has found that organizations benefit when both women and men hold top positions within companies.
The current climate still indicates there is still a long way to go.
Challenges that women face in the workplace include the overall feelings of lack of inclusion, the lack of work/life balance, harassment, the disparity in compensation, flexible work options, unfair promotional timelines, and so much more.
I have witnessed men’s allies showcase some actions and behaviors advocating for equality, inclusion, diversity both privately and publicly, meeting with women in the workplace to discuss equality, inclusion, diversity, and identifying cases of inequality and the lack of diversity.
So how can men become better allies for the advancement of women in the workplace?
1. Listen and empathize.
Many people listen to hear but do not actively listen. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to truly understand and empathize within the situation. Listening without an ego-filled agenda. Active and empathized listening takes effort and energy. To listen without judgment, responding without an agenda, and being present. Listen to learn. Seek to understand before trying to explain.
2. Acknowledge, disrupt & speak up.
No matter the ratio of women to men, women are often talked over, interrupted, ridiculed, and labeled for being as assertive as their male colleagues. When you see any of these things happening at work, it is time to acknowledge it, speak up, and disrupt the “normal’. Your voice and actions will go far and support women in the process.
3. Empower women to advocate for themselves.
Be supportive and stand up for women when you see any gaps. By doing this, you support women in their liberation and quickly close the gap on gender and wage disparity. Empowering and supporting women at the same level as you, below you, and ahead of you—your voice matters.
Men play such a significant role when advocating for women in the workplace. Any small gesture is important. Let’s reduce the global gender gap.
It is overdue, and men must do their part. Every right action step adds to another.
How will you become a better man ally and advocate for women?
“Visionary men have long been public champions and behind-the-scenes dealmakers for the cause of women’s inclusion. Today we need them more than ever.”12 –Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Kim Azzarelli, Chair of Cornell Law School’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice
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