Expand Your GQ (Gender Intelligence)
- Sharpen your situational awareness. Be vigilant in observing how your female colleagues are experiencing meetings and other gatherings and be alert to inequities and disparities in these contexts.
- Cure your gynophobia. Publicly push back on false narratives about the risks of engaging with women at work, while deliberately and transparently initiating conversations, friendships, and mentorships with female colleagues.
- Ask about women’s experiences. With humility and genuine curiosity, strengthen your GQ by learning about the uniquely gendered workplace experiences of some of the women you work with.
- Recognize that all women are not the same. Be attuned to the unique experiences and intersectional identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, generation, religion) of the women you work with.
- Own and strategically deploy your privilege. Recognize and fully own your privilege as a man—your opportunities, advantages, resources, and power—while leveraging it for the benefit of women and other marginalized groups.
- Deliberately seek feedback from women. Establish trust with a network of women who will give you unvarnished feedback about how they perceive your workplace attitudes and behaviors and receive this feedback as a gift.
- Notice sexist words and phrases—and intervene. Watch and listen for noninclusive language, sexist comments, overt misogyny, and harassing behavior; then, say something to disrupt it.
To Be Legit as an Ally, Start at Home
- Pull your weight at home. Consistently do at least half of the domestic work at home and share more of the load as needed based on your partner’s work schedule and stress level.
- Take time away from work and leave loudly. Set boundaries around work by boldly communicating your domestic commitments and publicly stepping away from work to fulfill them.
- Support your partner’s career without reservation. Collaborate with your partner to create a flexible strategy that maximizes both careers.
- Deliberately role-model allyship for your daughters and sons. Practice all-in domestic allyship with your partner to launch your daughters into the world without career inhibitions and teach your sons how to show up in the workplace and in their personal relationships as natural allies for women.
Everyday Interactions with Women at Work
- Include women. Combat belonging uncertainty among women by inviting them to all work-connected gatherings, generously sharing time, and treating them like one of the guys.
- Decenter. Step out of central roles, make physical space for women, and when invited to lead or participate in a high-visibility group (e.g., conference, committee), consider whether a talented female colleague would be a better fit and recommend her.
- Listen generously. Listen to women with the intent to understand, demonstrate empathy, and validate her experience—not fix women’s problems.
- Assume women are capable and competent (then, stop assuming). Scrutinize your automatic—often erroneous—assumptions about women and deliberately signal clear assumptions that your female colleagues are talented and competent.
- Validate and normalize women’s experiences. Be a trustworthy confidant in hearing about the daily slights, dismissals, and micro-aggressions women so often encounter in male-centric workplaces and show understanding about their feelings.
- Encourage women to let their talents shine. Affirm women’s capabilities and challenge sexist and biased comments about assertive, competitive, self-confident women as well as hierarchical systems that fail to fully credit them for their innovations and ideas.
- Level the playing field. Communicate the same performance expectations for men and women and push back on expectations that women must prove themselves over and over again or achieve a higher standard to earn advancement.
- Be observant but don’t give unsolicited advice. Avoid sharing unsolicited feedback, and before offering any advice, flip the script and ask yourself if you’d give the same advice to a man.
- Practice transparency. Secrecy perpetuates gender inequality, so share information (like salary figures and negotiation strategies) with female colleagues.
- Engage in women’s initiatives and inclusion events. When you participate in women’s inclusion events, listen, demonstrate a learning orientation and gender humility, and ask women how you can most effectively support efforts toward gender inclusion and equity.
Trust and Reciprocity in Friendships with Women
- Appreciate the benefits of friendships with women. Remember that men with strong collegial friendships with women develop sharper relational skills, broader networks, and enjoy more social support.
- Build a network of female friends. Develop a community of female friends at work and intentionally mentor several junior women.
- Create safe-space friendships with several women. Build trust in relationships with key female colleagues by practicing listening, unconditional regard, mutual self-disclosure, and caring feedback.
- Make it reciprocal. Ditch the formality and hierarchy and invite the reciprocal sharing of social support, social capital, information, resources, and authentic sharing of experiences.
- Discern her ideal self and career dream. Affirm her ideal self by reflecting that you see those traits and potential and then creating opportunities for her to express her ideal self in the workplace.
- Don’t shirk your honest feedback obligation. Honor your obligation to provide carefrontation, authentic and sometimes difficult observations about her workplace presentation, job performance, or preparedness for advancement.
- Get out in front of rumors. Be stringently transparent about meeting with female colleagues and mentees and talk openly—and appreciatively—about your female work friends.
- Crush bystander paralysis with the two-second rule. Practice rapid disruption techniques such as the “ouch” intervention to combat bystander paralysis and workplace sexism using a well-learned arsenal of responses.
- See something, say something. Practice watchdog vigilance in sifting the workplace environment for sexist comments and behavior; then be clear and decisive in shutting it down.
- When you say something, own it. When you publicly intervene to disrupt inappropriate language or behavior, take full ownership. Do not attribute your concern to the presence of women.
- Shut down sexist humor and gossip. Don’t be fooled by sexism masquerading as humor; watch for off-topic comments and intrusive questions directed at women and call it out.
- Be strategic about your approach to confronting other men. Presume most men have good intent; frame confrontations around sexism as a learning or growth opportunity, while using your experience to decide whether to confront publicly.
- Hold hiring and promotion committees accountable. Be alert to red flags for gender bias when evaluating candidates and push for multiple female candidates in every pool of applicants.
- Be a voice for those not in the room. Be vigilant to who is not included in key meetings and conversations and speak up for inclusion.
- Have your evidence-based inclusion pitch cued up. Know the evidence about why gender inclusion and gender balance in hiring, retention, and promotion are good for men, women, and organizational outcomes.
Sponsoring Women Loudly
- Be her raving fan. Increase her visibility and publicly and vocally advocate for her next advancement or promotion opportunity.
- Talk about her (positively) behind her back. Even when she’s not in the room, look for opportunities to tout her talent, achievements, and readiness whenever upcoming vacancies, new roles, or promotions are discussed.
- Provide cover and share your social capital. Introduce her to key players in your own professional network that might be important for her advancement and make it clear she has your full trust and support.
- Take a risk: Nominate her for stretch opportunities. Back her for stretch opportunities on the basis of her talents and potential, without expecting her to prove she can do the job in advance.
- Support women in leadership roles. Telegraph your support of female leaders and help ensure her success by serving as an honest consultant, sounding board, and loyal follower.
Organizational Change Starts with You and Your Leadership
- Design clarity, transparency, and accountability into your workplace. Be clear about the purpose of gender equity initiatives and transparent in communicating what they are designed to achieve, while establishing accountability for yourself and others.
- Be clear about your expectations and then set the example. Plainly communicate how gender inclusion and diversity relate to your purpose, intent, and values as a leader, and keep them connected to your business outcomes.
- Purposefully use your influence. Use your positional power to overcome resistance to organizational change and demonstrate your support and expectations for others to support gender and inclusion events.
- Be Intentional in attracting diverse talent. Examine your company’s digital and print media for diverse, respectful, and healthy depictions of women and men and review educational and training content for inclusion of diverse experiences.
- Connect women’s initiatives to leader responsibilities. Integrate gender and inclusion initiatives with leader development training and mentorship programs, and hold leaders accountable for achieving these goals as a business outcome.
- Put policies and practices in place to stop sexual harassment. Be clear in your messaging that you do not tolerate sexual harassment and encourage and support victims and bystanders.
- Create flexible work options that allow everyone to thrive. Acknowledge and support employees’ lives outside the workplace by placing realistic boundaries on time at work.
- Carefully assess your parental leave policies. Establish formal company policies for paid family leave and conduct a formal review to ensure that they are having the desired effect and being used.
- Create external accountability for your organization. Do not sponsor or participate in conferences without equal representation of women or do business with companies that don’t have at least 30 percent of board members or C-suite leadership who are women.
- Get pay equity right. Set transparent hiring and salary criteria and conduct annual pay audits in your company.
Developing a Culture of Allyship
- Launch a male allies community. Identify those allies who have expressed an interest in developing themselves and encourage cultural insiders with an outsider perspective as men who understand gender equity. Include all parts of your organization, every business unit, satellite or remote locations, and other employee resource groups.
- Strategically grow your allies’ community. Base the community’s advocacy on evidence and facts and keep it action oriented and focused on outcomes working within your sphere of influence to create small wins.
- Clarify desired outcomes. Make gender real and relevant by deepening understanding and appreciating the nuance and complexity of gender equity in the workplace, while clarifying men’s role in supporting gender diversity.
- Cultivate connection and collaboration. Create opportunities to interact with women in your organization through networking, mentoring, and professional development events.