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News & Blogs: Male Champions

Men: Are you still asking 'What's in it for me?'

Friday, October 30, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Kevin Carter

Having worked in the diversity and inclusion field for more than 20 years, I'm amazed at how little has changed with respect to the advancement of women in business. Men still make or break the careers of women. Women still need male champions to advance.

What has changed is there are more male champions today than 20 years ago and their level of cultural competence has improved. There are even a few more women with enough clout as CEO and senior executives to enact change for women as well. Finally, the volume of talented women who want to advance their careers to the highest levels has increased dramatically.

Related: Are your male leaders "too masculine?"

Today, the primary challenge of the male champion is not finding talented women, but fostering organizational culture change so that women can strive and thrive in corporations. To address this challenge, I've worked with men to develop individual and group action plans. During the for-men-only NEW Male Champion workshop at the NEW Leadership Summit 2015, for example, participants used the NEW Career Accelerator model outlining leadership competencies and career derailers to create individual action plans. Executives from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Nielsen, that recognize the value of women's leadership, will be incorporating goals they outlined in the workshop into their individual personal development plans and working as change agents within their organizations.

A major obstacle to gender equity in the workplace has been the feeling among many men that efforts to advance women are purely altruistic and have no business impact. To change the culture, men must recognize that championing women means a win for themselves and for their organizations. I urge men to consider these three benefits:

  • Greater customer affinity: Understanding women better means understanding markets better.
  • More co-worker engagement: Understanding women better means accelerating their performance and your performance.
  • A stronger personal brand: Understanding women better means fine-tuning and improving your personal brand.

A NEW approach

The male champion has the mindset, skillset and toolset to identify, support and advocate cultural change that benefit women. The mindset is one of high self-awareness and knowledge of others, particularly women. The skillset can generally be described as being a good listener, observer and communicator. And the toolset is having the ability to align strategies that advance women with achieving business objectives.

During the NEW Male Champion workshop, men challenged each other with these questions:

  • How well could others articulate why gender advancement matters to me?
  • Who are my female role models?
  • How do I foster gender knowledge?
  • What is my aspiration regarding the advancement of women?
  • How much time do I spend mentoring and being mentored by women?

The answers to these questions will lead to a clear and poignant list of behaviors men must model, obstacles they must overcome and personal actions they have to take to become male champions.

Kevin Carter is founder and president of Inclusion Innovates. He has nearly 20 years of experience as a diversity leader working for U.S. and international companies. His expertise includes conducting organizational diversity and inclusion assessments; developing and implementing diversity and inclusion strategic plans; embedding and monitoring procedures, practices and metrics that foster workplace inclusion; leading and managing female progression efforts; and developing and facilitating D&I and employee engagement education.

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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