Many men have in an effort to support women have ended up more confused than they began. They had good intentions but didn’t go about it the right way.
Let’s look at this scenario. A husband is making an attempt to please his wife, he says something and the next thing she stomps away in anger or she bursts out crying. The man ends up scratching his head wondering what went wrong. This happens everywhere even at work.
You don’t have to go through this tough situation. If you have gender equity in mind, here is a guide on what and what not to do;
Include and sponsor women:
Many women get subtle or sometimes overt signals that they’re not part of the team, or that no one has their backs. Often, women’s conceptions of themselves are highly defined by interpersonal relationships and such exclusion experiences could result in loneliness and attrition from the workplace. If you’re a man who wants to really support women, reach out and inquire how they are faring. Invite conversation, check in often, and get back to them quickly when they reach out with questions or issues. Having an open-door policy, can make it clear you’re available when they need help.
Ensure women’s voices are heard in meetings:
There is the tendency for men to dominate conversations in meetings, pitches to clients, formal presentations, and general discussions. A survey by Harvard Business review indicates that some women are socialized from an early age to hold back until there is a clear break in the conversation. Sometimes, that break never happens before a decision is reached. Next time you are in a meeting, look for an opportunity to toss the conversation over to a woman on your team and acknowledge her as an expert in a given topic. That way you’re teaching other men to respect her side of the story. Watch out! She’ll thank you later.
Evenly distribute work at the office:
LeanIn, an organisation that promotes women leadership released a report which shows that women volunteer for non-promotable tasks more than men and are far more likely to be directly asked to take them on. Chores like getting the coffee or planning the social gathering, note-taking, planning and organizing events, and several others. Speak up when such office housework is regularly directed to a female colleague, or have a male colleague volunteer to do it. It could come as a simple rotational schedule that determines who takes notes, monitors time, or produces the next meeting agenda.
Give women credit for a good job done:
Women and men define success differently. While men typically attribute their successes to innate qualities and skills, women more often than not attribute successes to external factors such as “working hard,” “getting lucky,” or “help from others.” It has also been revealed that when women and men work together on tasks, the former are given less credit for successful outcomes and blamed more for failure. Because women receive less credit, and give themselves less credit, their confidence often erodes. As a result, they are less likely to put themselves forward for promotions and stretch assignments. Also encourage the men in their lives to do the same.
You can mentor one woman, even several:
As man who is bent on encouraging gender diversity, give that female colleague a thoughtful input on how she can advance and then put her name forward for stretch assignments and promotions. You can introduce her to the influential people in your network and help her get to know key decision-makers in the industry. These moves can propel her career-wise and spill into other aspects of her life. If you’re uncomfortable with going to dinner with female colleagues, why not meet three or more of them and encourage other men to do same.
This is a curation of comments women have made concerning how not to support them. Who better to tell you than the person in question.
Don’t Mansplain. Mansplaining is derived from two words man and explain. Too much mansplaining leads to a syndrome I like to call “premature self-congratulation.” Don’t explain to them like you would explain to a five-year-old. She’s an adult.
Don’t leave the toilet seat up:
You might think it’s unconnected, but should it happen that because of space constraints you share a bathroom, please consider her as well. Equality is being equally thoughtful.
Don’t think you’re the Knight in shining amour:
You’re not “rescuing women.” Neither are you the cavalry and them damsels in distress. This is about reducing to the barest minimum, patriarchy in the workplace.
Don’t force her to like you:
Just because you assist her where necessary doesn’t mean she has to call you three times a day or have some romantic affection towards you. If she doesn’t say yes, just stop.
Don’t paint other men as valians:
Leaders and managers must decide to take personal action to evolve and improve women supporting behaviors in workplaces so that talented women are retained and advanced. Anything short of this will undermine the recent wins in the achievement of gender diversity. As we continue to live through this pandemic, let us continue to cultivate awareness and understanding of the unique challenges that women confront now on a daily basis.
Do you support women in your industry to grow? How did you do it? Do share with us in the comment section.