Male Champions On How To Make Workplaces Better For Women

What does the workplace that you want look like? The reality today is that leaders are still predominantly men, and caregivers are still predominantly women. In order to better the balance, we must all play a part in transforming workplace culture. Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, sat down with male champions for change in the FQ Lounge @ SXSW to ask how we can get there.

Shelley Zalis, Sid Bhatia, Eric Jacks, John Tubert, Tony Effik and John Gerzema in the FQ Lounge at SXSW

Shelley Zalis, Sid Bhatia, Eric Jacks, John Tubert, Tony Effik and John Gerzema

FeMENism must include men

We respelled feMENism to include the word ‘men.’ While feminism 1.0 was ‘she for she’ and feminism 2.0 was ‘he for she,’ Shelley explained that feminism 3.0 is  ‘we for we’ because we’re all in this together. She asked the male panelists, “What would you want to tell your daughter, if you had one, when she gets into the workplace?”

“Believe in yourself, despite what other people say to you, and despite whatever hurdles or obstacles come in your way. And what I hope for, as the years go through, is that the same belief you have for yourself, we’re going to see in the workplace as well.

~Tony Effik, SVP Client Strategy, NBCUniversal Careers

“I want you to grow up and be fully independent so that you can live your life the way that you want to.”

~John Tubert, Executive Technology Director, R/GA

“She should bring her whole self and her whole confidence to an amazing, exciting career.”

~John Gerzema, CEO, The Harris Poll

“It is all about encouraging them to pursue what they are really passionate about.”

~Eric Jacks, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Business Development, and Talent Relations, The Collab, Inc.

“Have no fear!”

~Sid Bhatia, Director, Workforce of the Future, PwC

Crowd Inside the FQ Lounge at SXSW 2019

Inside the FQ Lounge at SXSW 2019

We need to rewrite the rules

In the FQ Lounge, we don’t focus on what’s wrong or what’s been, because legacy runs faster than reality. “We talk about the opportunities and what could be, and how we can create positive, proactive solutions for change with measurements for accountability,” says Shelley. She poses this question: “What workplace rules are no longer working?”
“One of the most fundamental rules that really needs to be fixed is the actual working day being 9am to 5pm. That system was originally designed with the idea that the man went out to work and the woman stayed home. What are the implications of that [in today’s world]? I have personal examples of working mothers who just can’t make it work. I’ve also seen many organizations [making step change] where they are moving towards flexible hours, working from home, and providing childcare…Some of these big institutional things that we take for granted are actually manufactured.”
~Tony Effik
“I think maternity leave can be improved. In other countries, like Finland, women have almost six months off and there is also paternity leave.”
~ John Tubert
“You need to take a step back and ask, ‘What is the work that we’re doing, who are the people that are coming in, and what do we want them to achieve?’…One of the things we’ve seen is that organizations need to move towards flexibility [and remote working].”
~Sid Bhatia

It’s each of our responsibility to make change happen

Leadership isn’t about title or level; it’s about action. Shelley asked, “What’s your micro-action to advance equality in the workplace?”

“We are trying very aggressively to bring as many voices into the company, and to have leadership bubble up. We don’t look at titles as much as we look at people taking big risks and getting involved.”

~ John Gerzema

“My micro action is, what comes after listening? Listening is great, but if somebody comes to talk to you and you are lending your ear, you have a responsibility to then go do something about that.”

~Sid Bhatia

“We have an open-door policy where there’s no bad idea at any level across the entire organization. I think putting language like that in the job descriptions would make a lot of sense.”

~Eric Jacks
We need male leaders to continue to mentor women, to be bold, and to act as role models for others in the workplace. The best leaders today are those that inspire, and it is the passion that these male champions embody that will transform our workplaces into what we want to see.
Watch the full conversation here. For more advice on rewriting the rules in the workplace, check out:
Take 5: Rewriting the Rules for Men and Women at Work
It’s Time To Change What It Means To Be a Good Leader
Women Leaders Share How To Succeed With Flexible Schedules