How to get your male colleagues to bridge the gender gap at work
Being aware and challenging stereotypes
Men should observe their colleagues’ behaviours and ask themselves questions such as, “Does everyone have an equal voice in meetings? Who is being talked over?” and “Which gender requests support for their family responsibilities?”
In addition, they should observe the challenges the women face in the office. Use that knowledge to challenge stereotypes. When a woman is being referred to with negative adjectives, they should ask for an example of what the woman did and then follow up with, “Would you have the same thought if a man did the same thing?”
Acknowledge the contributions of women
Research shows that when women and men work together on tasks, the men receive more credit for successful outcomes and less blame for failures. Men can ensure their women colleagues get due credit by actively acknowledging their contributions, especially during meetings where women are often interrupted or have their ideas attributed to someone else. If a female colleague is being interrupted, male colleagues should jump in and invite her to finish what she started.
Hire inclusively and review policies
If the company has set diversity targets, identifying high potential female talent with the capability and ambition to make a larger contribution is key. Equally important is having a clear evaluation criteria towards hiring and promotions to avoid unfair penalising and unconscious biases.
Mentor and be reverse mentored by women
One of the biggest obstacles for women in senior positions is the lack of high- quality mentorship. Men can help their female colleagues by giving them career advice, identifying the best stretch roles to excel in, and helping them navigate through setbacks. Men can also choose to be reverse mentored by more junior women colleagues. Reverse mentoring has been known to boost retention rates of more junior employees, drive positive culture change, and promote diversity, all of which are important factors in building a pipeline of female talent.
Extend their network to female employees
Men tend to have networks and contacts who are predominantly more senior. Providing female colleagues access to the people in their network will help to level the playing field. Male colleagues should also take every opportunity to put such colleagues in the spotlight and highlight their qualities to senior leaders, as such actions tend to be misconstrued as being “aggressive” or overtly “ambitious” when women do it on their own.
This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of Her World.