Happy New Year!
And what an important New Year it is!
2020 is the centennial of women in the U.S being able to vote. Could 2020 possibly be the year that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) guaranteeing equal rights under the law regardless of gender could be passed? Now that would be something to celebrate!
GenderWorks wanted to take the fresh start of this symbolic new year to reintroduce ourselves.
We work with traditional male leaders and managers, moving them from confusion to clarity and from frustration to success in their efforts to retain and develop women at their companies. We engage with – rather than talk at – men, deepening their understanding of gender at work and equipping them to enable women to flourish professionally.
In our January newsletter, we employ our neuroscience lens to discuss why coaching men to most effectively facilitate women’s career development is crucial for gender diversity progress in, Same Situation, Different Reality: Mentoring Men. Our video The Cynical Generation??? provides a rare window into the gender inequalities men encounter.
We hope your are off to a great start in this new year.
All the best,
Lisa D’Annolfo Levey & Bryan Levey
Same Situation, Different Reality: Mentoring Men
From a neuroscience perspective, each of us brings our distinctive mix of cultural contexts, interests, and experiences to what we see, and often fail to see. The meaning we attach to what we observe is similarly filtered through the glasses we wear that reflect our individual lens on the world.
As a result, two people may experience the very same thing at the very same time in the very same place yet have different stories to tell. There is ample research underscoring how differently women and men perceive their work environments, which we explored in our October 2019 article, Helping Men Filter In What They May Not See.
While signs of gender inequality in the workplace are highly apparent to many women, these same signs are far more likely to be filtered out – or interpreted differently – by men. For example, men in companies where senior leadership was more than 90% male reported little problem with gender diversity in their organizations.
Mentoring is a popular strategy that companies utilize in their efforts to create a more inclusive work environment and strengthen the diversity profile of their leadership pipeline. Women’s initiatives often include a mentoring component, pairing mid-career women with senior-level women – and men – who share information about their career experiences as well as providing guidance. The goals of mentoring include helping women to more effectively navigate their organizations and to build new skills.
What’s missing in this approach? Focused efforts to mentor and coach men!
If an organization’s objective is to support women’s career advancement, and men remain the majority of decision makers who play a significant role in determining women’s career success – yet often hinder rather than facilitate their careers – doesn’t it follow that coaching men to more effectively do so is critical?
Men struggle with a wide variety of challenges with regard to women’s development and advancement. They need help with:
- Seeing patterns of behavior, which often remain invisible to them, that powerfully and persistently disadvantage women in their organizations
- Understanding how masculine social norms – which define the workplace – differ significantly from feminine social norms
- Understanding the degree to which women feel they must adapt to masculine rules of engagement that feel foreign to them
- Realizing the amount of effort women expend, constantly needing to adapt, which saps their energy and motivation
- Knowing how best to respond when they observe the unique challenges women confront
- Adapting workplace practices to eliminate, or minimally mitigate, gender bias
- Understanding the drivers of retention and turnover for women during key phases throughout their careers
- Demystifying women’s thinking, and decision making, with regard to promotions, relocations and other aspects of their careers
Men hear loud and clear the organizational mandate to have more women in leadership. Yet those same male leaders and managers receive little support for – or guidance with – understanding women’s thinking and career decision making and the male ally behaviors that foster women’s professional success.
Consider the challenges men face in being effective stewards of women’s careers. Men commonly experience acute pressure on their time and ability to focus, fueled by modern communication tools and global competition. Combine that with the difficulty men often have in understanding what women need – and want – in order to thrive in their professional lives. Add on men’s frustrations in doing what they think women want and discovering they’ve miscalculated.
Men feel reluctant to ask a question or make a comment that may be construed as stupid or out of touch. The MeToo movement has left many men feeling as though they’re walking on eggshells and unsure about what’s appropriate in their interactions with women subordinates or colleagues. Men can ask themselves how they would feel if a male colleague treated their sister or girlfriend that way. Their internal response will probably tell them all they need to know.
Men describe a variety of feelings — confusion, agitation, trepidation, exhaustion, among others – in response to the organizational mandate to develop more women leaders. Many men wish the whole darn thing would go away.
In their quest to improve gender diversity, organizations have focused on mentoring and coaching efforts that emphasize helping women to adapt. Isn’t it about time to mentor and coach men so that it’s the workplace that does the adapting for a change?
The Hopeless Generation???
Our November 2019 newsletter premiered GenderWorks’ video on women’s struggle for equality.
Simultaneously, men wonder, where do I fit in in the gender equality story? Men encounter gender inequalities too and sometimes we’re blind to the masculine bind.
The Cynical Generation provides a window into the challenges that accompany men’s privilege. Stay tuned to the end because things have a tendency to turn around. Let us know what you think.