Let’s bring men into the conversation; after all, men are allies, and many of them are keen to make the workplace more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Here are some simple and practical things that men can do to support women and further the progress of gender equity and inclusion at work.
Praise women in public
It’s a well-known fact that women don’t tend to promote themselves as much or as well as their male counterparts. I’ve written and spoken about this extensively and explored the reasons for it, but my point today is that if a woman you know is doing great work but not shouting about it herself, you can pick up the virtual microphone and give her a shout out.
Check posts for inclusion
Left to chance, you might have an unconscious bias towards referencing men. It’s true that there are more male authors of business books, more make keynote speakers etc. However, you can make an extra effort to include women in your examples. Yes, it will probably take extra thought, but it is worth it.
Go the extra mile
Related to the last point, there are a lot of areas where you may need to go above and beyond the obvious, to ensure you include women in your conversations, stories, social media and events. There are many women currently in influential positions (including me) who will shine the light on you for shining the light on women so that it could benefit you as well.
Include women whenever you can
If you are putting together an article, event, meeting or project, actively seek out talented women to get involved. Many are ready, willing and able but may not be as proactive or confident to approach you. So you go and approach them.
Be open and transparent
Let everyone know if you are an equality ally and looking to support and elevate women wherever possible. You may get some pushback and be accused of positive discrimination, but if you feel strongly that you want to help level the playing field, stand your ground. I’m always happy to have a chat about how to have those conversations.
Call out unfair practices
Sometimes it’s not enough to just do your bit. If you see or hear something that is not right, say something. Speak to the person involved, as they may not be aware they are leaving women on the sidelines, or worse. If it becomes a serious issue, be courageous enough to step up and call it out to the people in charge.
Put your money where your mouth is
If you have a budget, check where you are spending that money. There are millions of women-owned businesses but left to chance, businesses owned by men win three times as many contracts. Many excellent women-owned companies could provide the same or better service at the same or better price as men’s businesses. Again, it takes extra effort, so decide if you are willing to spend a bit of extra time to give your business to a woman-owned company.
Ask some women
This may seem obvious, but if you are close to some women on a professional or even personal basis, ask them how you can help. I’ve put together some of my best ideas in this short article, but there are dozens of other things you could do. There may be some really obvious ways you can help if you just ask. Then, of course, listen to the answers!
Be open to feedback
Many people are watching you and your actions. Some will even give you (unsolicited) feedback, especially when you mess things up (in their opinion). Stay open to that feedback and remember that what they are saying is true for them. If you develop a reputation for being accessible and approachable, more people will approach you will all kinds of opportunities.
Make it right
As I mentioned above, despite your best efforts, sometimes you still get it wrong. Man up and apologise as soon as possible, and look for ways to resolve it. This attitude and behaviour will be appreciated and remembered.
Above all, remain true to your values. Whatever your position in the organisation, you have a reputation, and that can shift with every word that comes out of your mouth and every take.