Preparing Men to Support Women in Leadership Positions

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In order to develop a culture of gender equality, which I know smart leaders believe in, I am going to offer a solution that you may not have heard of or thought of: preparing men to support women. We need to create awareness and provide education for male colleagues to understand exactly how to support the women in charge. This requires a plan of action; so we can prepare and train men to support women in leadership positions.

Following is a course of action that will improve gender equality, and something that all men and women should do, if you are not already doing it.

Action Plan for Equality

  1. At your next leadership team meeting, discuss equal pay. Make sure employees with similar titles and experience are being paid equally. If not, develop and execute a plan for equal pay.
  2. At another leadership team meeting, develop a plan to identify, train, mentor, and sponsor a diverse group of women for future leadership positions at your company.
  3. Male managers need to model their behavior toward women by communicating, supporting, and collaborating with women leaders respectfully every day. Prepare and train the men on your team to be led by women.
  4. Create an email list of influential women who you know. If you don’t know any, reach out to me at Communicate with them regularly. You can also follow leaders and organizations on Twitter that regularly address diversity and gender equality issues. Here are a few Twitter handles to get you started: @Open4Serv, @EqualPayAct, @ACLU, @SPLCenter, @HRC, @MakersWomen, @IamAStartupLady, @DiverseSociety, @WomenandHiTech, @SallieKrawcheck, @Ellevest, @gdiIndy, @inconfwomen, @NawboIndy, @MsFoundation, @GloriaSteinem, and @KristenCooper23.
  5. Follow these women and organizations focused on diversity on all social media platforms. Share their successes publicly.
  6. Invite women to participate in networking functions with senior level men where you get to spend time building trusting, professional relationships (ie. golf outings, basketball suites, box seats at football games).
  7. Build a plan to add women executives on your leadership team.
  8. Seek out women who can serve on your board.
  9. Provide paid time off for women on your team to serve on boards outside of the company.
  10. Encourage women to accept speaking engagements to teach about their areas of expertise.
  11. When planning conferences and panel discussions, always include women as panelists. Avoid this hashtag on Twitter -> #allmalepanel.
  12. When building committees, always include women members.
  13. Women & Men: Consistently go to events that are lead by women and invite men to attend with you to show support.
  14. Make meaningful connections for women to the men and women you know that can provide guidance, investment, or clients for them.
  15. Understand the definition of feminist. (See art work at the top of the article).
  16. Understand the definition of misogyny. (The dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.)
  17. Avoid mansplaining. (A man explains something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.)
  18. Nominate and vote for people who do NOT discriminate against women and minorities.
  19. Give credit where credit is due. If you are getting the kudos and she deserves it, re-direct the credit.
  20. If a woman has out-performed you in some capacity, don’t gossip about her. Instead, learn from her and support her. Figure out how to work with her collaboratively.
  21. Don’t use language or imagery that debases a woman in the office, on murals in your restaurant, in the locker room, or ever.
  22. Don’t ask women to pose in pictures advertising success if you haven’t invited them to be thought-leaders and active participants in your project.
  23. If a woman disagrees with you, don’t assume she is simply being a contrarian, and don’t make her feel less than, dig deeper to understand her perspective.
  24. It’s important to keep in mind that a highly-educated, professional woman is going to have an established network, political war-wounds and confidence from all of her experience doing it right and getting it wrong. This kind of woman has been responsible for the success and possibly demise of many others. Understandably, a woman with this level of experience wants to make sure that decisions being made are in the best interest of the organizations and teams that she leads. That means she is frequently going to ask, ‘why?’ This type of smart, strong woman is often seen as the enemy. Yet men with these very same characteristics are seen as trustworthy and competent leaders. Be aware of your bias toward this type of woman – work toward making her your ally not your enemy.
  25. Sponsor women colleagues with male leaders. When she’s not in the room, advocate on her behalf.
  26. Bonus! Integrate a ‘triple bottom line’ goal for the company. Incentivize managers and employees to attend trainings, workshops, networking event and conferences with a focus on diversity and/or minority business community.

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