I was prompted to write this blog after watching Jeffery Tobias Halters YouTube talk In it he makes a strong argument for engaging men in championing women’s advancement into executive roles. The question I have is ‘What’s in it for men?
I can see what is in it for the business, decision making based on a broader understanding of the customer base, better problem solving owing to greater diversity of input, better business results, more jobs, better profits for the shareholders and a continued future for the company. That all seems to be pretty straightforward.
Men don't know what to do
What seems not to be so obvious is how to open up the conversation with men in the face of mounting complaint from would be executive women, the government and other pressure groups like the 30% club Halter makes the point that in the absence of knowing what to do, men quietly close ranks and ignore the issue because they can. He explains that at the moment, it really isn’t clear to men what they have to gain from taking the initiative to include women. I agree with him in believing this phenomenon is a deeply embedded cultural reality. Boys have it drilled into them as they grow up, that anything feminine is weak and therefore suspect. When men/people feel insecure they naturally stick with what is familiar. We only step out and learn new things if we feel safe and expansive.
How to make it easier
How can we make it easier, a positive even? There are many men who realise they could be doing more but are cautious because they don’t feel they have a platform where they can stand up for change. Its early days. Halter has built his own platform, which has been very successful in raising his profile, certainly amongst women. Another initiative is attending women’s networks to find out more about women’s concerns, male colleagues are always welcome guests. He also suggests just listening and asking questions of female colleagues, which can be very educational and instantly creates more rapport and engagement. Talking to men about their daughters is another way in.
I am always looking for opportunities to open up the dialogue with men about how they can benefit from supporting women in making them equal partners. If you have any ideas on possible initiatives leave a comment or get in touch directly.