Why We Need Men To Empower Women In The Workplace

Involving men is a vital part in creating sustainable change in order to deconstruct negative social norms and rebalance the power structures that fuel workplace inequality.

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A wise woman once said: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

The majority of women are certainly doers, unfortunately that is not enough when it comes to advancing in the workplace.  Next year we will celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution: Women’s Right To Vote. Since then, women have made tremendous strides in creating a voice and positions for themselves in the workplace.  

A new record has recently been set within the business world. As of June 1, 2019, 33 of the companies on the ranking of highest-grossing firms on the Fortune 500 list will be led by female CEOs for the first time ever. This is a significant increase from last year, where just 24 female CEOs led the companies on the 2018 Fortune 500 list.  Coincidentally, that same report states that the companies with more female board representation achieved a considerably higher financial performance than those with fewer female representatives.

Although this advancement and rise in leadership may give reason to celebrate, let’s take a pause and look at the numbers: 33 out of 500.  That is not good, that is pretty bad actually.

The path to placing women in executive positions is obviously still a long one and is filled with many obstacles.  The gender pay gap is one of the major obstacles that hurts women and their families in a wide array of ways. The US Census Bureau reports that women earn only 80 percent of what men are paid.  In 2018, women earned just 85% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018.

However, pay inequality isn’t the only workplace gap holding women back from career success.  It all ultimately stems from men.

Involving men is a vital part in creating sustainable change in order to deconstruct negative social norms and rebalance the power structures that fuel workplace inequality.  The numbers speak for themselves. 33 out of 500. Men are leading corporate America and men are making crucial decisions that without deviation, directly affect women and the economy.

Society needs men to champion women in the workplace in order to achieve gender parity in senior leadership and repair the leaky pipeline. A simple act of empowering women in the workplace can and will result in a plethora of positive change as well as an uptick in America’s overall economic environment.

Below are 3 Simple Things Men Can Do Right Now to Empower Women in the Workplace:

1. Mentor A Female Colleague or Employee

Mentorship is a critical component of success.

My personal biggest champion in the workplace was a very senior male partner at a large financial institution.  He believed in me and invited me to participate in leadership tasks from my very early days with the firm.

Largely because of this male mentor, my job performance was at the top of my class and, in time, I learned how to be the boss of my own company.  

2. Pay Women Equally

Equal Work = Equal Pay

Paying women equally contributes to women staying in the workplace long enough to acquire senior executive positions.  

Low wages for women is the leading reason women quit their careers once they become mothers.  The parent with the lower income is usually the one that stays home to become the caregiver due to the overall cost of having and raising young children.

3. Allow Women To Be Heard & Give Proper Credit

Women are much more likely than men to be interrupted in the workplace while speaking either during a meeting or while having an informal chat by the water cooler.

Whether you are a senior partner or a newbie intern, all men should politely speak up and help pass the mic back to any woman that has abruptly been muted due to other males interjecting.  

For example: “Great point, but I don’t believe Lauren finished sharing her views with us.  Lauren, please continue and we’ll get back to Kevin once you are finished.”

A recent study by the Harvard Business Review, suggests that women do not get their fair share of credit when they work with men.  It is essential that women publicly receive credit for their contributions. This is the only way for women to properly receive the recognition and respect they deserve from their male co-workers as well as their managers.

Although there are many more ways men can empower women, let’s start with these 3 basic, yet influential acts.  Without unified action, change cannot take place.

To all the men in the workplace, I invite you to think of your wives, daughters and granddaughters, the next time you are in a position where your actions can make a difference in the workplace for women.

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