On this International Women’s Day, I was asked to speak about what is it that men can do in the workplace? Now I don’t have all the answers, (please feel free to share ideas below) but I recently heard former President Jimmy Carter say that the third problem facing equality for women today, after (1) violence and (2) religious fundamentalism, is (3) that most men simply don’t give a damn!
So here is my encouragement to give one – along with some ideas to support your colleagues at work.
10 things men can do (and these really aren’t restricted to men…)
Men you can:
- Mentor women. This is not a women-only position or role.
- Not be afraid to admit if you missed a woman’s contribution in a meeting. Or better yet, ask a woman what you might be missing – and LISTEN! Not as easy as it sounds, but a step in the right direction.
- Demand to see female candidates for job interviews, even if you’re only a team member.
- Be understanding of women’s monthly cycles – imagine being kicked in the balls once a month, EVERY month! You know it’s coming and there is nothing you can do about it…
- Don’t confuse someone’s tone with the message – go for facts, find out more.
- Get informed. I found this article on sexual experiences very eye-opening.
- Sick of women getting all the attention? Go be laddy with the lads. There are still plenty of spaces to do that. Or better yet, join or start a men’s group. Sign up to A Band of Brothers or HeforShe – look at their tools for men and boys. Talk to your mates about your challenges, I do.
- Show online support – if you’ve seen the harassment women put up with, it’s 10x worse on the internet. See MP Mihari Black’s statement yesterday. Or just read any online forum about gender equality.
- Call out abusive and sexist behaviour. Demeaning a woman because of her gender/cycle/age is not only sexist – it’s lazy, inaccurate and stupid. Men we really can do better than this.
- Identify, and then talk about, women role models and inspirations. Right now mine include Billie Jean King, Emily Temple-Wood & Lady Astor – she called out Stalin to his face, in public, for torturing his people in 1932!
Each and every single one of these takes courage. It’s not easy. It might help to think about the world you want for your daughters, sisters, friends, colleagues, partners.
Or even just act how you think a good person should act and follow through. It won’t always be comfortable, but chances are someone will be watching or listening. One day someone might even thank you for it.
Go on, choose just one and have a go. You might even find you deserve the title “Man.”