Men as Allies
Inclusion is an important part of diversity, so why are we excluding men from open conversations about the struggles women face in the workforce? Let's focus on creating allies with men who are willing to listen and ready to help.
When we embarked on the journey of starting brightmeetsbrave.com the first thing we had to figure out was – who was the audience. While we are a site about women, the intended audience is much broader. We strive to speak to and about men as our allies.
I have been to my fair share of women in leadership conferences, workshops and networking events, and one thing I have noticed is – it’s ONLY women. There is no doubt about it, women supporting women is essential. It’s important for those who have experienced success to pass lessons learned, words of encouragement and sense of confidence to those women who are up and coming or struggling to continue pushing through. But it’s equally as important to have men in our professional lives as allies.
I get asked quite often why is it I pay so much attention to gather men’s opinion, listen to them and educate them on the differences in the workforce of what men vs women face? I used to be a bit surprised by the question, because in my head I knew the answer. Recognizing the curse of knowledge, I wanted to state explicitly and provide a straightforward answer to that question. The curse of knowledge is “a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.”
There are 2 reasons why I want to make sure that men are included in our conversations of gaining confidence, asking for equity in the workforce and facing the challenges that are plain foreign to our male colleagues.
Men have the critical mass. Try as we might as women to support each other, the truth is most people in the position of power that can actually make the difference are still men. Upper management and above is still made up largely of males. If we exclude men from our conversations, then we are intentionally excluding people who can help us make progress so much faster.
There are a lot of men who want to help women advance and gain equity in the workforce, but due to stark differences in the approaches and experiences, many men don’t understand the obstacles women face. If somebody doesn’t understand other’s perspective, the help that is going to be offered isn’t going to be effective or sufficient.
Those are the reasons why I want to ensure that we start having conversations with men about what it’s like to be a female in the workforce. How women look at job descriptions, how we ask for raises or negotiate an offer, what work/life balance means and how to ensure that we speak up and are given the credit where it’s due – experiences that are vastly different between men and women. Backlash and performance management affect men and women very differently.
Hope is not a strategy. If we want to start affecting change, then the first step is awareness. And that is precisely why I want to include men! This journey isn’t just about women empowering women, this passion of mine isn’t about excluding men, it’s the opposite. I strive to empower women and educate men, so we can be effective and make a meaningful difference. So we can create content and products that push companies and society forward in innovation, collaboration, equity and progress! We are stronger together, so let’s start thriving together as we empower women and educate men. As a result, our efforts will be magnified and real.