How men can benefit from supporting women at work
Geraldine Gallacher CEO of ECC shares the top 5 ways we can support each other at work.
One of the positive things to come from the current outpouring of stories of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls is a growing consciousness at a national level that men are key to the solution.
So why aren’t more men getting involved? An action gap currently exists between men thinking they are one of the good guys and actually doing something to stamp out harassment and violence.
It’s a similar story at work with gender equality. We know that gender inequality exists in all our organisations and that men are in a privileged position to change this. There are more men than women in senior positions with the power to bring about change. And colleagues, especially other men, are more likely to act on demands for gender equality when they are delivered by men.
I suspect many men don’t move from thought to action for several reasons. Some simply can’t see the inequality having never experienced it themselves. Others fear doing so may jeopardize how other men see them and have a negative impact on their career and some simply don’t know what to do. And that’s holding men back as well as women.
Men benefit from supporting women at work
Men that cultivate close professional working relationships with female colleagues have an advantage over those that don’t. The insight and perspective they receive enable them to become more effective and inclusive leaders. They enjoy more social support, have broader networks and more career opportunities. They report better mental health and more rewarding relationships outside of work.
Five high-impact strategies to support women
1.Call out behaviour that undermines or deflects credit from women. If a male colleague appropriates a female colleague's idea in a meeting, interrupts or talks over her – call it out without blame or shame. “Great idea, I agree and that’s exactly what Emma was telling us earlier. Is there anything you’d like to add Emma? Or “One moment, let’s just let Liz finish what she was saying”.
2. Actively promote female colleagues abilities – especially when they aren’t in the room. You can leverage your own power to help talented women build credibility with senior male colleagues, get better exposure for their ideas and stretching projects necessary for promotion. Talk frequently and with conviction about their strengths, achievements, and readiness for promotion.
3. Cultivate professional working relationships with female colleagues – initiate friendships, build trust, consider mentoring. Whether that’s offering your services as a mentor or being mentored by a woman.
4. Advocate for policies that enable men and women to better share care responsibilities – push for enhanced pay for men to support the uptake of Shared Parental Leave. Encourage men to work flexibly to share childcare. Model leaving the office early, loudly and proudly, to pick the kids up from school.
5. Ask HR how you can get involved – often internal networks set up to address gender equality issues are dominated by women. Solutions are likely to be more effective and sustainable if they include insight, ideas and action from men as well.
Above all else take action – be an upstander, not a bystander.
Geraldine Gallacher, CEO, ECC
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