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What if she was your daughter?

Monday, June 1, 2015  
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By Jeffery Halter

Most men today lead very compartmentalized lives. We put on our suit of armor and walk out the door to do battle.

Sure, we may drop off the kids once in a while or coach our daughter’s soccer team, but unless a family event appears on our calendar, we really don’t make a connection between our family lives and work lives. This is particularly true of men and how they work with women in the workplace.

My request this Father’s Day is for more men to treat women like their daughters. Not in a patronizing "pat them on the head" manner, but with the same spirit of support they would have for their daughter.

Every time a man automatically assumes a woman should take notes in a meeting or make the coffee, he sends a subtle message that women are not as important as men.

Related: Memo to men: Don't just 'get it,' do it

The next time a women speaks up in a meeting and is talked over by men, I want you to picture your seventh grade daughter being talked over by boys in school. Every time men use the word "honey" or "sweetie" or even something worse to address women at work, I want you to think about the teenage boy who is calling your daughter "hot" (or something worse). Sadly, women at work are besieged daily by a death of a thousand seemingly minor inequities and men aren't even aware of it.

I propose that this Father's Day, instead of expecting a gift from their daughter or wife, men should give them a gift by speaking up for women and pushing for workplace change — today — in hopes of creating a level playing field for their daughters in the future.

With this thought in mind, I've created the Father of a Daughter (FOD) Initiative, because what better gift can a father give his daughter than a shot at a brighter future? An FOD is a father of a daughter who realizes the responsibility he has for advocating for women in the workplace to ensure that his daughter is able to have a gender equitable workplace in the future. The FOD Initiative is a roadmap for men to help women around them.

As part of the FOD Initiative, men will:

  • Deepen their understanding of the business case for women in their organization and their division.
  • Write the business case for their department for women regarding revenue, talent and engagement and discuss it with their team each month.
  • Find a female cultural coach, someone they can have an honest discussion with regarding the real experiences women are having in the company.
  • Mentor a woman. If their position allows, they will become an advocate for a woman. If they sit at the talent table they will become a sponsor for a woman.
  • Deepen their understanding of their company's HR practices, specifically gender equity issues in selection, compensation and performance management.
  • Support and demonstrate workplace flexibility for all employees, so that women don’t feel they are being singled out for special treatment.

The idea is for male leaders to read a simple one-page commitment, print it out, sign it and place it in the office where everyone can see it. The sole act of taking a stand for supporting women’s workplace advancement will demonstrate to employees that you are the proud father of a daughter who gets it!

My hope is that you will post this in your office next to the special handmade card your daughter is going to give you on your special day.

Jeffery Tobias Halter is president of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on creating integrated women’s leadership strategies through male engagement. A Network of Executive Women member and speaker, he is the author of  Why Women, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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