Career & Money

How Men Can Help Close the Gender Equity Gap: Examples of Success

Dr. Anne Litwin
By Dr. Anne Litwin

men wage equity gender equality“Sisterhood is not enough; men must be involved in efforts to equalize workplace culture,” writes Peggy Klaus in the New York Times. Klaus goes on to quote Belinda Parmar, head of the tech consultancy Lady Geek, as saying, “gender equity is not a ‘women’s problem,’ it’s a society problem.” I could not agree more, and we need to do more to change workplace culture.

Klaus notes that over the past twenty-five years, many large organizations have invested significant resources to promote women’s leadership conferences and workshops as their way of supporting the advancement of women, yet not much has changed in the representation of women at the senior levels of management. Women comprise only 3 percent of CEO positions in the United States. Women’s leadership conferences and training programs create networks and provide crucial support, especially for women working in male-dominated industries. They help women face the challenges of cultural biases and stereotypes that men don’t have to deal with. For example, women have to negotiate differently than men to be effective, and they have more difficult challenges around executive leadership and self-promotion because of the “likeability factor.”

men wage equity gender equalityThe issue is that American corporations think that investing in conferences is enough to fix deep and systemic issues. Klaus notes, “Relying on women’s conferences and trainings to fix the problem amounts to little more than checking a diversity box and sidelining the issue of gender equity.” Women cannot change organizational cultures, which are held in place by policies, procedures, and deeply ingrained society biases, without the engagement of men. Men hold the power and must be part of the solution.

Fortunately, Klaus reports that we have some positive examples of how men can become allies:

  • Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, conducted a gender-pay audit at his company and spent millions correcting the gender-pay gap that he discovered.
  • Bradley Cooper announced that he would do his part by sharing information about what he was making on a film with female costars before they signed their deals after several Hollywood actresses, including Jennifer Lawrence, discovered they were being paid significantly less than their male costars.
  • The investment firm BlackRock developed a women’s leadership program that addressed gaps in leadership skills, global networks, and sponsorship. The CEO and other senior leaders invested significant time, energy, and resources into the program, which led to advancement for the majority of the 160 participants. This was not a program that sidelined the issues. This program made a comprehensive commitment to changing the organization’s culture.

men wage equity gender equalityNicholas Kristof writes about the ways that men, organizations, and society win when women win, and I also wrote about this in a previous article. Here are some of the benefits for men and organizations when women are more involved:

  • Bringing on more women makes work teams more successful.
  • Women bring knowledge, skills, and new networks to the table.
  • Women take fewer unnecessary risks.
  • Women tend to collaborate in ways that strengthen teams and organizations.
  • Successful venture-backed start-ups have more female executives than failed ones.
  • Firms with more women in senior leadership generate more market value.

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant note that “economists estimate that raising women’s participation in the work force to the same level as men could raise GDP by 5 percent in the United States,” which means more jobs and wider prosperity.

As Parmar noted, this is not just a women’s issue, it is a societal issue. We need to work together, women and men, to change societal attitudes and organizational cultures that limit opportunities for women. We will all benefit in the long run.

Dr. Anne Litwin
Anne H. Litwin, Ph. D. Consultant, Coach, Trainer, and Author Dr. Anne Litwin has been a consultant, coach, and trainer for more than 30 years in a wide variety of organizations throughout the world, including Africa, China, Myanmar, Russia, Singapore, Europe, Canada and Mexico. Anne served as the CEO of her family business and was past chair of the Board of Directors of the National Training Labs (NTL) Institute.  She specializes in helping organizations leverage diversity, including women’s leadership development, for business success. Dr. Litwin specializes in women’s leadership development as a trainer, coach, researcher, public speaker and author. She develops and delivers women’s leadership development programs for businesses. She also provides executive coaching to help women leaders enhance their capacity by strengthening their interpersonal and strategic skills.  She works with clients to improve their ability to communicate their ideas, to listen, to give and receive feedback, to manage conflict, and to deal effectively with system power dynamics.  Dr. Litwin helps her clients understand how to take diversity and international regional differences into account as managers, colleagues, and with customers. Anne has published the findings of her research on women’s work relationships in a book entitled, New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together, published Fall of 2014 . The findings from Anne’s life-long interest in the unique dynamics among women in a wide range of work environments is at the forefront of unlocking myths about women’s work relationships. Her clients have included:  Alibiba; Aera Energy; Chevron; Analog Devices; Siemens; Hewlett Packard; Microsoft; EDS; Texas Instruments; Hasbro; Parsons; Cummins; Berlex Labs; Lucent Technologies; Verizon; Agilent; EMC; and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Anne has a Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters in Community Psychology from Marist College, and a Masters and PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University.   Dr. Litwin is a qualified user of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Leadership Circle Profile, a certified Organization Workshop trainer, a World Cafe and Future Search facilitator, and a member of the Organization Development Network.  She is co-editor of the book, Managing in the Age of Change, along with numerous articles on gender differences, women’s leadership and consulting in the global context. For more information, please contact Dr. Litwin at: annelitwin@earthlink.net, or call 617-983-0923.  Visit her website at: www.annelitwin.com to learn more about her services.

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