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Take 5: Rewriting The Rules of Men and Women at Work

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Photo Credit: rawpixel on Unsplash


Men, as well as women, lose out when there’s not equal opportunity in the workplace. How can workers better recognize and call out barriers to female advancement? What advice can we offer male leaders on how to mentor women in light of research that finds 1 in 6 men are uncomfortable mentoring women after #metoo? Thought leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience share how to rewrite the rules of work to help shift culture—and drive equality for all.

Know that Equality Isn’t A “Woman’s Issue”

Women are 50% of the population, and we can’t advance equality by ourselves. We need both men and women working together to drive change. “We have to get involved if we want to take this seriously. That means we have to put something on the line to make a change,” says Jeff Mike, Vice President and HR Research Leader at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “That doesn’t mean this is a zero-sum game…by improving the ecosystem, everyone rises up.”

Culture Is a Daily Practice

“There’s this saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast…it’s my belief that it’s a daily practice, small tweaks and actions that people observe,” says Amy Wilkinson, Founder and CEO at Ingenuity and Lecturer at Stanford GSB. “Be careful of cultures created where people are afraid to speak up.” Allowing everyone’s voice to be heard is essential for cultivating diversity and cultures of belonging.

Jeff Mike of Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Amy Wilkinson of Ingenuity; Dalana Brand, of Twitter and Anne Cocquyt, of Women In Product at the Girls' Lounge at Oracle's Modern Customer Experience

Jeff Mike of Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Amy Wilkinson of Ingenuity; Dalana Brand of Twitter and Anne Cocquyt of Women In Product at the Girls’ Lounge at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience

Offer Paternal Leave to Help Level the Playing Field

When both men and women take parental leave for having a child, it is good for everyone. That’s because it helps normalize parenting in the workplace for both men and women. “We have to make sure our policies are supportive to [diversity],” says Dalana Brand, VP, Total Rewards at Twitter. “The pay gap is in part attributed to a ‘maternity tax,’ meaning women taking time off to have their children. Paternal leave encourages more women to be in the workforce…more opportunities in when and how they want to work.”

Male Mentors can Help Women Rise

Research shows that women who have mentors are more likely to get promoted. Since more men are in leadership positions, male mentors and sponsors are key to women’s advancement. “The positions of leadership and authority are really held by men, so anyone who is coming up in my age bracket and succeeding [in the corporate world] has been helped by a man,” says Amy. “Men who will take you to the conference or meeting or make an introduction [is important to helping women advance]. Given the power dynamics, it often takes men to bring women along.”

Find Informal Moments to Support Women And Amplify Their Voices

“It doesn’t have to be a formal mentorship relationship in order to be a male ally. You can be a part of the cause and support women in many different ways,” says Dalana. “When men are stepping out there in informal ways, such as reinforcing comments or ideas from women in meetings and giving power to their voice, it goes a long way.”
We respelled femenism to include the word “men,” because change won’t happen unless we all work together. For more ideas on how men and women can support each other in the workplace, see:
Why We Need to Redefine Masculinity in the Workplace—And the World
Esther Perel on the Post #MeToo Era
David Schwimmer on how Power And Perspective Can Change the Equation Around Harassment