Memo to men: Don't just 'get it,' do it
Monday, February 9, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
Jeffery Tobias Halter
More and more, organizations are realizing the importance of male engagement in their efforts to advance their
women’s leadership initiatives. Simply stated, the industry will never obtain gender
parity without the active advocacy of men.
The business case for women's leadership in the
retail/consumer goods industry is an easy one — women are the primary consumers of
everything Network of Executive Women partner companies sell. The challenge:
most organizations perceive talk about the business case as conceptual
conversation -- they don't integrate their women’s leadership strategy into all
aspects of the business.
Organizations must move to ensure that
marketing, sales, operations, human resources and senior leadership are all held accountable with measurable metrics. Men need to examine the scope of their business and understand the day-to-day accountabilities. But even
that is not enough to move men from passive appreciation of the business case to
The key to advocacy is finding a personal
reason for male engagement. True male champions, I have found, are typically
the son of a working mother, the husband of a working spouse, the brother to a working
sister or the father of a daughter. The power of a personal connection cannot
be understated and, surprisingly, I have found many men do not make this
connection on their own. Men tend to lead focused and compartmental lives. Unlike
women, we separate our personal lives from our work lives. We seldom make the
connection that the women in our personal lives face the same challenges as
women in our organizations.
I’m often asked by other men why I’ve chosen a
career dedicated to advancing women in the workplace. I tell them, that by and
large, my generation of men — young Boomers— tried to be good and supportive
fathers. We supported our daughters at soccer games and dance recitals. We
talked about raising independent and strong girls. We ensured they went to good
colleges. Yet, when our daughters graduate from college and make 78 cents on
the dollar, we stop advocating. We stop advocating for the most important
person in our lives.
We never make the connection that by not
advocating for women today, our daughters will face the same biases, challenges
and inequities that all female coworkers face.
Many women I speak to find it incredulous that
men do not connect the women in their lives with women at work, yet this is often
the case. The opportunity is not to challenge why this is true, but rather, to
use it as a point of discussion. I have one question for women to ask their
male coworkers: "Would you want your daughter to work for our company?”
Chances are they have never thought about it.
Tobias Halter is president of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on
creating integrated women’s leadership strategies through male engagement. A
longtime Network of Executive Women member and speaker, his book Why
Women, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men will be published in April.
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