What does it mean to be a “mindful ally” to women?
Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of “paying attention on purpose” to what’s happening inside of you and around you, moment by moment, so that you become progressively more deliberate, compassionate, and effective in the choices you make. I believe that men who practice mindfulness are more likely to have a significant impact on advancing women’s possibilities, through consistently taking 13 core actions:
- Acting and speaking in a manner that demonstrates zero tolerance for any kind of harassment or violence against women in any setting
- Asking open-ended questions a lot more than telling women what they should do; in fact, be as reluctant as possible to give advice
- Becoming active in your organization’s women’s leadership and diversity and inclusion efforts
- Becoming comfortable with discomfort; i.e. not running away from, or getting defensive during, situations in which women are “keeping it real”
- Becoming progressively more aware of not driving our own agendas, insecurities, needs, etc., instead of truly trying to help women (including not forcing ourselves into the conversation or event if we’re not invited)
- Becoming progressively more aware of what “mansplaining” and “manterruptions” sound like, and ceasing to do it
- Hiring and promoting women into key leadership and influence positions, and ensuring the job descriptions are inclusive
- Listening, with curiosity, a lot more than talking, and becoming more aware of what empathy looks and sounds like
- Serving as a sponsor or mentor to professional women in a manner that helps them grow in confidence, awareness of their strengths, professional connections, and strategies for career growth and success
- Taking action to influence people with power, based on paying attention to things happening in the educational systems, marketplaces, state legislatures, federal branches of government, or the courts that could hinder a woman’s choices, freedoms, and opportunities
- Speaking in an inclusive manner and avoiding stereotypes such as “bossy,” “bitchy,” “emotional,” etc.
- Supporting women’s voices and ideas in corporate or group settings, including interrupting the meeting when we observe that a female colleague has not been invited, is not being heard, or is not getting credit for her idea
- Wanting to be an ally first and foremost because it’s the right, humane thing to do, and not primarily because it’s smart for business (which it is)
If you’re getting a lot out of this particular blog, you’ll also benefit from reading this recent Harvard Business Review article.