How Men Can Best Support Women at Work
We women are very much aware of having to work hard in order to achieve total equality in treatments and rights vs men. We know we are the first ones who have to support each others in order to get there.
However, men's support can be what really changes the perception of women in the society and especially at work.
Here you can find a list of some concrete actions men can do at work and outside, in order to be supportive and encouraging towards women, and becoming "Diversity Champions".
1) Become Mentor of Women: choose to support women's career by mentoring one or more. By doing that, you will learn from close why it is more difficult for a woman to pursue a fast and as equal career as men. I actually only have men in quality of Mentors who fully support women in business.
2) Invest in Women: if you happen to invest in new ideas / startup, do it in a team where there is always at least one woman. This shows support and care for advancing women into innovation fields and giving them exposure.
3) Be a Sponsor at Work: Actively support a woman in the department you work in or in the team you work in, to continue to advance within your company. Sponsorship goes beyond mentoring – it is not just about listening and offering trusted advice. Sponsorship is about advocating for someone's best interests at key inflexion points in their careers.
• Advocating for them to come in person to the next important pitch or meeting and make them presenting
• Supporting their application for a key program such as a mobility placement
• Putting them forward for the next leadership role.
4) Support the flexible working policies that benefit everyone:
Take advantage yourself of part-time or flexible time, and parental leave.
Using them not only benefits you, but also helps to integrate how we all choose to work and live.
Support those around you who are taking advantage. Be explicit in your support of the people on your team who are working flexibly, and consider what actions you can take. I remember when I was working in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, it was absolutely normal to see men taking 3 months for paternity leave and I totally appreciated they were doing it.
4) Support and coach a range of communication styles:
In meetings at work, ensure that everybody has sufficient airspace and that nobody is talked over or consistently interrupted. Make sure that if a good point is made that it is acknowledged and complimented. This applies to everybody, but evidence suggests that it disproportionately applies to women – especially the more junior and still not confident with openly speaking up.
5) Give feedback thinking the way women think:
When giving feedback be cautious to use wording and feedback related to behaviours vs. personality traits. Research from Catalyst suggests that there is a bias to use words like "abrasive" or "helpful" instead of focusing on actions and outcomes.
This will also help find the right way of given difficult feedback – by keeping it focused on actions (which are changeable) vs. personality (which by implication is not).
It's funny to know that when men receive feedback, among all bad they might get, they only remember the only good one. Women instead, among all good feedback they get, they only focus and remember the only bad one. That is why it's very important for men to understand how important is the way they give feedback, by remembering women not to take it too seriously and to keep in mind also the good aspects of their feedback.
At The Boston Consulting Group, where I'm proud to work, we are working hard to implement all these habits within the men community which is unfortunately still much bigger than women in number, especially at the Italian Office.
However, as women we receive a lot of support not to sacrifice our careers to combine our private lives.
If you have other suggestions about how men can concretely support women at work and beyond, please don't hesitate to get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best!