“Companies with more than 30 percent women executives are more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranges from 10 to 30.”
Diversity wins: How inclusion matters – McKinsey Report, May 2020
Most companies now realise the importance of promoting women in the workplace and have decided to progress on Gender Equality.
While specific female development programs are a must to help women climb the corporate ladder, we also need to create a system that supports gender equality. For this, we all have to work together, we must ally with men, include them in the conversation and engage them in making the changes.
In her Roadmap to Gender Equality in Organisations, Dr Zsuzsanna Tungli, Founder and Managing Director of Developing Global Leaders Asia, presents this alliance as one of the 8 key steps to gender equality in organisations.
In this article, you will find best practices on how men can be more involved in conversations about equality and become the best gender equality allies.
What Organisations can do
- Set up a network for gender equality including men
Companies can set up a Gender Equality or Inclusion Network and invite men to networking events supporting gender equality. This will involve men in the discussion and engage them to act.
- Encourage gender discussions
Give men space to share and focus on gender equality topics. For example, set up group discussions with fathers of daughters on how they would like to change the work culture for their daughters’ futures.
- Share and suggest concrete actions
Empower men by letting them know what actions they can take to support their female colleagues. Create a list and share this information on posters, send emails, put it on internal web portals.
- Include men in gender equality trainings
Subconscious bias training should be offered for all employees at every level. Let all employees see why awareness about subconscious biases is important in their day-to-day roles and how these impact equality and inclusion.
- Set up cross-gender mentoring
Set up a mentoring program where men mentor women and women mentor men. This will create opportunities for both genders to encourage each other, share their challenges and successes, and address their biases.
What Women can do
- Include men in gender equality networks and conversations
Women can also play their part by including men in the gender conversation.
Men should be invited to networking events and group discussions to build awareness and give them the opportunity to share their opinions and ideas. This will help create alliances with men for all of us to act together.
- Tell men (and women) when you feel excluded
Men often just don’t realise the challenges women are facing. Tell them why you feel you don’t have the same opportunities as men do. Tell them when you don’t feel listened to or included enough. Let them know when you are being cut off or ignored in a conversation.
- Request a fair distribution of career enhancing and high visibility projects
Managers and colleagues often want to protect women from demanding jobs and assignments based on the assumption that women with family responsibilities would prefer not to take these on.
Make sure people know about your ambitions, make your voice heard if you want to have a new role or be involved in a specific project.
- Be a mentor to men
A mentor provides guidance, emotional support, and role modelling. As a mentor to men, you can play an important role in helping men address their own biases and fears as well as prepare the pipeline for the next generation of men allies.
- Ask men to be your sponsors
A sponsor will not only provide you with career guidance but will also use his/her influence to open doors for you and push for your career advancement.
Ask men leaders to sponsor you and give you more opportunities and visibility in the (potentially male dominant) organisation.
What Men can do
Listen to what women have to say with focus, empathy and without interrupting.
Respect women’s voice in meetings and discussions and listen to their messages and needs.
- Ensure women’s voices are heard in meetings
Did you know that, in an average business meeting, women’s participation is 75% less than the participation of men?[i] Be aware of the tendency for men to dominate conversations in meetings and in everyday discussions.
Notice when a woman hasn’t contributed to the conversation and involve her by asking for her opinion on specific questions.
Acknowledge both men and women when they contribute positively to a meeting.
- Distribute fairly and volunteer for ‘less promotable’ tasks
Recent research[ii] shows that women volunteer for less promotable (e.g. note-taking, planning and tracking of administrative requirements, organising office parties) tasks more than men and are far more likely to be directly asked to take them on.
Raise your voice when tasks are regularly directed to a female colleague, or volunteer to do it yourself. Encourage women you work with to say “no” more often and have their back when they decline less promotable workload.
- Mentor/ sponsor female talent
Sponsor and/or mentor emerging female talents to provide them with more visibility, connections and opportunities. Encourage and promote talented women in your organisation to support them in climbing the corporate ladder.
- Be a change agent for gender equality
Speak up when you notice inequalities, harassment or poor treatment.
Share articles and videos that support gender equality.
Support inclusive initiatives such as inclusive recruiting by considering more female resumes and having gender-balanced representation in panel discussions and presentations.
Ask yourself and others how you can support women better in your organisation, networks, or at home.
With open eyes, sincere discussions and the will to progress together men and women can be the best allies to face inequalities.
As a woman, ask yourself what you would like men to know and how you would like them to support you.
As a man, be conscious of the challenges you can see and hear around yourself and find out how you can do more for the women in your environment.