What a man should do to support gender equality:
Dr Michael Kimmel commented; “white men have been the beneficiaries of the greatest affirmative action program ever known in the history of the world—it’s called the history of the world!” I am a strong supporter affirmative action for women through the use of targets for women especially into senior line positions. Men often complain behind the scenes that their opportunities will be curtailed. For the last 200 years they have been advantaged in almost every conceivable way in the business environment. Merit selection has been given as a “trite” excuse. It is now time that real merit is seen beyond the male persona.
Here are some things that any man can do to support women at work:
– Understand that gender equality is important (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/leading_in_the_21st_century/gender_balance_and_the_link_to_performance)
– Challenge your organisation’s thinking about women at work (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/fostering_women_leaders_a_fitness_test_for_your_top_team)
– Reflect on your view of merit – is it biased (http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/myths-meritocracy-women-arent-rising-senior-leadership/)
– Reflect on what leadership means today – “command and control” needs to move to “Collaboroation and Motivation” (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/leading_in_the_21st_century/centered_leadership_how_talented_women_thrive)
– Make gender equality personal to you and others (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/championing_gender_equality_in_australia)
– Ensure women are paid equally at least in your in your area and ensure your organisation is recognised as a pay equity ambassador (http://inyourhands.org.au/become-a-pay-equity-ambassador/)
– Encourage others to “call out” inappropriate behaviour – as General David Morrison said “The behaviour you walk past is the bahaviour you accept” (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/inappropriate-workplace-behaviors-2014-8)
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I know we need to change the thinking of senior men about how they assess merit and talent especially when it comes to women. When these leaders want a speaker their first choices are great sports stars or adventurers – normally men. They want to feel inspired to climb higher mountains or take more risks. Whilst such speakers are inspirational they will not help an organisation move to greater gender equality.
What Australian leaders need to know is how to make gender equality happen. They need to look in the mirror see their natural biases and more importantly identify how they can be a leader that sees beyond their assumptions. How can they build and lead a diverse work force to maximise their success.
I am confident that through my experience as Managing Director at Apple in Australia, winning Employer of the Year (with an engagement of over 90%) and building Xplore for Success that I can bring them pragmatic ways to change their workplace and move positively towards gender equality. Xplore has worked with over 11,000 women over the last 13 years from many large organisations.
We know what works and we can work with senior leaders to ensure their organisation achieves their gender equality goals.
Australia lags behind US, UK, Canada, SA and NZ in the metrics on women in senior positions. Why is it so and how do we change it.
Most research has focused on why
– the correlation for men between likeability and leadership is positive for men but negative for women. So when we see women who are strong leaders, subconsciously we like them less.
– “lookism” is more pronounced for women than men. Constantly women are assessed on how they look rather than how they achieve business results – just ask any senior business woman.
– our society still perceives women as being responsible for the family duties. When senior business women are interviewed they are often asked how they manage the family. I have never heard a man asked the same question.
– women have the same levels of ambition as men
The real challenge is how to we action change
– we need targets because this brings the conversations and the metrics into the open with clear goals, the same way that other important facets of a business are measured against targets
– as a society we need to pull ourselves up and reflect on our biases (women have just as many as men). Don’t assume women won’t travel, don’t want a new job, are happy where they are – in fact, don’t assume!
– men need to step up and accept they bring social bias to business decisions. Everyone brings bias from their culture and their upbringing, however men’s bias affects the promotion of women.
– we need to have both men and women committed to change because it is well proven it is good for business
Be very careful if you are a woman when someone asks you the get the coffee. Are the appropriate person or is it simply that you are a woman. So how can you handle this? Try to keep it light but definite.
1. Why don’t we take a break and get coffee together
2. I have an idea I want to run past “whoever”, maybe someone else could do the coffees today
3. I don’t need a coffee right now I am happy with water
4. I need a ladies stop but would love a cappuccino thanks
And the note-taker request
1. Today is a bad day for me I hurt my wrist
2. I know “whoever” is really good at summarising key points
3. If you do this week, I will do next
It’s not about being unhelpful, it is about ensuring that your value is at the right level and it is not assumed that you will take on gender stereotypes. Hope that helps.