In advance of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, I’d like to offer three action steps that men can take to become stronger allies to female colleagues in the workplace.
The first is to sponsor a women of color at your company or organization. You can do this by deliberately tapping into the influence you have as a member of several overlapping internal networks, and the steps for sponsorship are simple but require some practice to become deliberate. These steps can include inviting the woman to high-profile meetings; sharing their career goals with influencers; recommending them for new positions or stretch assignments; and publicly speaking to their strengths whenever possible.
The second is to become more cognizant of any tendencies to “mansplain” or commit “microaggressions,” and transform such habits into healthier ones such as self-reflection, active listening, and empathy. Once you start observing these statements rolling off your tongue or the tongues of other men, you’ll gradually build muscle memory around those new habits.
Finally, another key and very doable step is to reflect upon the women who have helped you to be successful in life, and tell their stories to others. Think of all the women who have played key roles in your journey; potential candidates could be your mother, sister, a teacher, a manager, a camp counselor, a youth group leader, or a female thought leader whom you haven’t met but whose media appearances or writings have touched you deeply.
These are certainly not the only concrete steps that male allies can and should be taking, but they will get you started on a path that’s both personally and professionally rewarding. Many more ideas can be found at websites such as Better Allies, Diversity Inc., and Fairygodboss.
Helping those who are historically and currently granted less of the privileged “benefit of the doubt”–which is the situation, frankly, for anyone who is not a straight, white male in the United States–creates an intrinsic sense of purpose and optimism.
Growing Your Strengths
I’m a Nashville-based writer, talent strategist, and certified executive coach. On this website, I primarily write stories featuring a diverse group of professionals whose tips on applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling will help you love your career and enhance your quality of life.
These characters face familiar pain points: nonstop change, accelerating technological disruption, and the collective “noise” that grows louder each day. The impact, for these professionals and for many of us, has been confusion, distraction, and stress.
Until, however, each of these individuals chooses to do something new: practicing mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling habits, and growing them into strengths…strengths that respond to change rather than just react.
Strengths that you can develop as well.
Don’t settle for the confusion, distraction, and stress. You’re stronger than that, and capable of much more.