Recruiting Men to Help Promote Gender Equality in the C-Suite

There’s great debate in the worlds of social justice and progress about finding the line between “safe spaces” and “buy in.” For women in the workplace, especially those in corporate America, C-suites, and board rooms, women want the same importance and respect have, but the question remains: Do we fight against men for it, or recruit them to help us diversify our leadership?

For many, the argument is to recruit men to join the effort to bring diversity and gender equality to the realm of upper management. From a sheer numbers perspective, a movement to include more women in the upper ranks of a company is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Most men will probably agree that running an inclusive business means ensuring an inclusive team is in charge of the company, and few if any will admit to harboring some deep aversion to having women in leadership. What these men may not know, though is how to go about improving the number of women present at the table.

If the men of your company aren’t actively helping promote gender equality, then they’re hurting the effort by enforcing the status quo. To grow the number of women who make it to the C-suite, men have to take up an active role in forwarding the agenda of gender inclusivity and equality.

A common refrain among those who claim they want gender equality is that they don’t know where to start or what to do. Where does one go to find qualified, experienced women in the field? Coco Brown, the founder of a women’s empowerment networking group called The Athena Alliance, recommends for men to start with someone the trust and to network out from there. She writes, “If a CEO knows one amazing executive woman, he has access to at least six others. We all run in like peer groups.”

Additionally, as simple as it may sound, men can practice not talking when a woman is talking. Psychological implications of socialization and imposter syndromes aside, men often physically have louder and deeper voices than women do, meaning that, as they wish, they can drown out a woman’s input with ease. For many women who are trying to contribute to their place of work, literally having their voices heard is an important step.

Tips for Female Executives

When it comes to high-level executive positions, the number of women is severely lacking. Females account for just over half of the population in the United States, but comprise only 14.6% of executives, 8.1% of the county’s top earners, and 4.6% of the CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. You might be thinking, “maybe not that many women go into business, so the numbers could be proportional. However, women hold 60% of all master’s degrees ( 44% of all master’s in business/management, and 37% of all MBAs), comprise nearly half (47%) of the labor force, and make up 59% of entry-level workers who hold degrees. So why is there such a disconnect?

Women face a lot of pressure and obstacles in the rise to becoming an executive. Although it can be difficult to be a woman in charge, here are a few tips to help you succeed.

  • Push yourself outside of your comfort level.
    • Don’t ever let anyone say that the reason you didn’t succeed is that you didn’t try hard enough. Sure, it’s nerve-wracking to ask for a raise or to inquire about a promotion, but if you don’t push yourself to become more, you’ll end up stuck where you are. The same goes for business dealings. There will be risks that come along, and if you don’t jump at the chance to better your business, you can end up falling behind. Keep challenging yourself to see how much you can truly succeed
  • Don’t let your personal life dictate your professional life (and vice versa).
    • Your position as an executive and your status as a woman, wife, or mother are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to stick to just one, and you don’t have to be defined in either capacity by your position in the other. Women may socially be expected to stay at home to raise and take care of the children, but this is 2017. If you’re a mother, you can be a breadwinner coparenting with a stay-at-home dad and you can use child care services. If you want to put your career first and don’t want to have a family, that’s perfectly fine as well. Live your life and pursue your dreams the way you want to.
  • Get comfortable with being the only woman in the room.
    • Female executives can often find themselves the only woman in a room full of men. It can be easy to let yourself become overshadowed and talked over, but you can’t let yourself get boxed out. It may take time to “prove yourself,” but the only person who can handle how you behave in the face of adversity is you. Believe in yourself, your knowledge, and your ability and unapologetically own the position that you’ve earned.

The Challenges Women Face in the Workplace

Lately, women’s rights has been a popular issue of social importance. And with the recent happenings from this year’s “International Women’s Day,” I was inspired to write about the challenges women are often plagued with in the workplace. Below is just a small selection of the challenges I’ve seen.

Maternity Leave

Overall, paid maternity leave in the United States lags behind almost every other industrialized country in the world. America, and a small island nation called Papua New Guinea, are the only two industrialized countries in the world with no paid maternity leave at all.

Although legally, employers with fifty or more workers must allow new mothers twelve weeks of job-protected leave every year to care for a newborn. However, the problem is maternity leave isn’t paid and often leaves new mothers with less income at a time when they need it the most. That’s why most new mothers don’t utilize the full 12 weeks they are given

Women Need to Be “Attractive” to Succeed

Women in every industry and every level of leadership make 79 cents for every dollar men make. Not only do we make less than men, but we have to put out more money to make ourselves look attractive. Why? Because statistically, attractive people are better off in the workplace. It’s a human bias that’s known as the “what is beautiful is good” effect. Women who look beautiful are seen as more intelligent and competent. They also are more likely to get job interviews, more job offers, and higher income than their less attractive counterparts. So if we want to be seen as more attractive by societal standards, we have to wear makeup, style our hair, whiten our teeth, and attend to skin and nail care — all which require money.

Women Need to be Attractive, But Not Too Attractive

It’s a catch-22: women need to be attractive to succeed, but they can’t be too attractive or else they won’t be taken seriously. It can bring an increased discrimination in hiring and on the job, and can make women leaders less trustworthy and loyal. So although women “need” wear makeup and have their hair done, being too done-up can make women seem shallow or judged for only getting by based on their looks. If women aren’t done-up enough, they aren’t taken seriously and aren’t as successful as other, more attractive women.

Women, how do you feel about this? Please comment below.

Are You Being Held to a Double Standard?

Women run only 4% of companies in the Fortune 500. Twice as many women as men have been turned down from a job because of their sex.

Lori Cornmesser Ixia

Women are perceived in a negative way in the workplace. Female workings are seen to be “too strong” or pushy. Behaving in a dominant way is the way to get ahead in a career, however women are not expected to act that way. Because of this, they come off as arrogant and over-selling.

Society has placed rules on how women are supposed to act, dress, and think. However, women these days are taking jobs that are classically accepted for men, such as, meter reading, construction, and other handy jobs. Women in these roles believe they can do any job that a man can do with the same performance, according to will and physical means.

One woman in a professional environment said, “Even in this day and age, a guy barks out an order and he is treated like someone who is in charge and a leader. But when a woman communicates in the exact same way, she’s immediately labeled assertive, dominating, aggressive and overbearing.”

Today, women make up almost half of the workforce in America. On average women still make 77% of what men make, even in the same role.You think that now women can relax and not worry about their perception at the office – however this is simply just not the case.

Ladies, take risks and assert your leadership. If you see something that’s wrong, take a stand and make sure it is corrected. Acknowledge your team member’s hard work and then ask for what needs to be done.

The key to bridging this period of growth is to exercise new ways to communicate with a wide range of people at work. The ultimate goal is to deliver your message without pissing anyone off.