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6 Ways Male Leaders Can Support Women
Awesome Men Who Want to Help
I’ve worked with many fantastic men in leadership positions who have been supportive of me and other women at the company and in the business world at large.
I’ve also talked to many men who care and want to help but aren’t sure where to start.
If you’re a man in a leadership role who wants to help level the playing field or help more women succeed, here are 6 specific strategies that are straightforward and impactful.
Some of them you can do in less than 5 minutes, starting today!
6 Ways Men In Leadership Roles Can Support Women
1. Give them access.
A (male) CEO I worked for introduced me to an informal group of CEOs with an email list and a quarterly gathering. He was too busy to regularly participate. For me, it was an incredible learning and networking experience. The group wanted more diversity and welcomed me as a startup executive even though I wasn’t a CEO.
💡✨ What exclusive or high-impact organizations or events could you broker access to for a woman at your company?
2. Open the door.
The first week I joined the company, the (male) CEO sent me an article detailing the toxic bro culture of Wall Street and said, “If our company is ever doing things like this, let me know.”
There were a few things over the years I brought to his attention. Nothing egregious. A comment to a woman about what to wear to a meeting. A suggestive email from a customer. He addressed them quickly and directly. Molehills never became mountains. The women who worked for him proudly shared the stories with their friends and future hires.
💡✨ Do the women at your company know you want to hear from them if something is off? Shoot them a quick note linking to this blog or another article about the topic.
3. Advocate for good parental leave.
Not just primary parent leave, which we know is important, but secondary parent leave too.
For example, when Dad has more time to help with a new baby because of secondary parent leave, Mom has more mental and physical energy to re-engage with work. The time Dad spends as primary caregiver lays the foundation for a more equitable split of family responsibilities in the future. Subsequently, Mom is more likely to stay in the workforce.
This heterosexual example is not coincidence. It’s a much more common dynamic in male/female relationships than same sex ones.
💡✨Are your company policies supportive of working parents which directly and indirectly provide tremendous support for working moms?
💡✨ BONUS ✨💡 Did you take your full paternity leave? If you do it, it’s easier for the moms in your organization to do it too!
4. Make intros to mentors, especially women.
If you meet someone awesome who could be helpful to an up-and-coming woman in your organization, see if they’d be open to an intro.
Meeting experienced folks who feel “like me” – similar gender, ethnicity, role, disposition, or background – can be transformational to someone’s motivation, growth, and career trajectory.
If you don’t have many women in leadership currently, this is a great “hack” to provide mentorship to your future women leaders who you want to retain and develop.
💡✨ Could you make a meaningful intro?
5. Widen the hiring pool.
When you hire more women, the effect starts to snowball. Women recruit other women. Having women at your company attracts other women. Getting to critical mass of 30% will happen faster than you think.
The place to start… have more women in the candidate pool!
💡✨ Do you have at least two women as finalist candidates for each role?
6. Be mindful of social activities.
Outside-of-the-office social interactions are a great way to build rapport and network. Are these activities interesting, welcoming, and appropriate for the women at your company?
Coffee and lunch are fantastic networking for all. Group dinners are also good. Book clubs, bowling, and volunteer activities are also pretty universal.
If it’s a casual, typically “guy” event like a fantasy football league or sports bar after work, be intentional about inviting the women. They may be interested – in the event or the bonding.
💡✨ Can you adjust a social or networking opportunity to make it more welcoming to women?
Share other ideas!
These are just a few of many ways male CEOs or leaders can support women in their careers.
💡✨ What other ideas or experiences can you share to build on this list??
Special shout out to Craig Hyde, Rigor CEO, who inspired several items on this list. Thanks for initiating these things before I even knew I wanted them!