Years ago, I was lucky enough to work for an agency with an incredible female MD. She inspired our entire group to be happy and productive – and I soaked up her methods like a sponge while I worked with her.
But since then, the companies I've worked for have had a man at the top. Much more typical.
This means that, over the past decade, at work at least, I've been mentored by men (including some really amazing people). And it also means that, as I've gone up the vertical funnel of an organisation, the social groups that ideally I'd want to be a part of, are populated by men too.This is the territory that 'Lean In' author Sheryl Sandberg picks up in her article for qz.com. She looks at how the spaces occupied by men can be opened up to include others – with a bit of mindfulness.
'Lean In' is a book all about women changing their behaviour, whereas this article examines what men can do to change their own behaviours, to ensure their space makes room for everyone. It might be speaking up to make sure a woman gets credit for her ideas. Or taking a woman to dinner (where a lot of plans hatch). Or NOT taking a man to dinner, if you really want to give people equal opportunity.
It's good reading for the men wondering what practical things are in their power to help us increase equality in the workplace.
The phenomenon of women not receiving credit for their work is partially attributable to the double bind that women constantly face in meetings, email, and everywhere in between. “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive,” Sandberg and organizational psychologist Adam Grant write in the New York Times. Women of color can be even more strongly affected, as West points out: “People of color not only have to deal with racism; they also have to deal with white people labeling them “angry” or “hostile” or “difficult” for objecting.”