Are you a man who wants to see gender equality?

29 Sept 2023 Are you a man who wants to see gender equality at work? Perhaps you’re unsure how best to step in. Or you’re finding it harder than you expected to make headway. In this LinkedIn post, which attracted lots of interest, I summarised Do’s and Don’ts that stood out for me from reading Professor Elisabeth Kelan’s new book “Men Stepping Forward”. It’s packed with practical advice and I highly recommend it.

First, taking a lead is crucial: men can be particularly effective disruptors for gender equality because you’re not seen as having a vested interest. Second, men need to do three things: articulate your personal vision; enable others to follow your path; and live and breathe gender-inclusive leadership.

Do’s and Don’ts that stand out for me from Elisabeth’s book:

DO listen to, believe and acknowledge what women tell you of their experiences, even though they may be different from your own perceptions.
DO recognise that the system implicitly benefits men. Reflect on how the experiences of women relate to social structures like sexism and racism.
DO ask what YOU can do differently.
DO tell personal stories about why gender equality matters to you.
DO make your stories real, for example by drawing on what you’ve learned from women you’ve worked with (bosses, colleagues, women you’ve mentored).
DO fight the corner when you meet resistance or ignorance from other men. Develop a plan and be thoughtful about what approach will work best.
DO sponsor women – and, crucially, make sure you create an environment in which they can succeed.

DON’T be afraid of mistakes or surprises. These are learning opportunities.
DON’T call yourself a champion or an ally – champion implies it’s a competition with winners and losers (not helpful), while ally suggests supporting a cause unrelated to you (when we’re all affected by gender inequality).
DON’T assume all women will respond to your efforts with joy, or all have the same priorities.
DON’T jump in with offers to support women before finding out what they think and want.

Elisabeth recommends that you work out your own path as a change maker. What type of leader for gender equality do you want to be? What are some actions you’ll take to disrupt gender inequality?

Thanks to Robert Baker, an outstanding change maker, who sponsored the engaging book launch event at Chief hosted by Fiona Barron.

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