By: Michelle Bogan
One of the most important things men can do to improve gender equity at work is to help break down the men vs women silo-ing into everyone being seen and treated as individual people. I’m focusing on men here because most senior level positions are held by men, so it is even more important that men set the example.
Some of the most impactful actions can be small. We don’t always need grand gestures to affect change. Day-to-day behavior often goes a longer way.
Here are 4 things men can do to set women up for success in the workplace:
- Be vocal about your personal needs and set boundaries around them in front of your team and peers.
One of the most impactful things a male leader ever did for me had nothing to do with me. He made a statement in front of our team and a senior client that it was important for him to be home with his kids for Halloween so he could not travel on that day and therefore we had to move a major meeting. Another male leader always answered his phone if one of his kids called, regardless of how senior the other people in the meeting were. Both are examples of men prioritizing family in small but very important ways, and neither were penalized for doing so. In fact, they were both beloved by their companies for behaving this way. We all need to see this behavior so we know it is ok to do the same for ourselves.
- When you bring a woman with you to a meeting, set her up for success.
Talk about why it is great that she is there, what experience she brings to the situation that the group will benefit from, how to best utilize her as a resource. This is particularly important when bringing a woman into a situation where you know it is likely the group may have expected or would likely be more comfortable with a man. This helps diffuse any tension and sets her up as an important contributor straight out of the gate.
- Coach women.
Bring them into your networks, sponsor them for new opportunities, and use the coaching time to listen to their experiences as well as share your advice.
[Related: Are You Coachable? Here’s How to Tell.]
- Don’t assume every woman wants to be the spokesperson for all women at the company/in her division/on her team.
At the end of the day we all want to be seen as people with our own skills, talents and proficiencies, and we want a level playing field to compete from. We may also have a passion for helping other women, but we may not — and this may change over the course of our careers and depending on the perceived political risk to getting involved. Either way, we want to be treated as equal individuals first.
Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Michelle Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women’s groups, and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.
Previously published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.