3 Ways Men Can Help Close the Gender Gap
I recently read an article on Entrepreneur.com about how the two female founders of Witchsy created a fake male co-founder to fight sexism. Around the same time I saw the World Economic Forum’s report on The Global Gender Gap Report. The report found that the gender gap will not end for another 170 years. That means my great-great-great-great-granddaughter may get the same pay as men in 2186. How can that be possible?
As the founder of Monstapreneur, my mission is to enable other entrepreneurs to find their distinct purpose and use it create personal and business value. In my years working as an entrepreneur, I realized how many men I usually work with. Despite knowing many female entrepreneurs, it still seems difficult to connect. And I know how crucial their diverse perspectives are to our success.
So what am I missing?
What am I doing wrong that I’m not connecting with women in a way that can help bridge this terrible gender gap?
To answer some of my questions, I chatted with Rachel Braunstein. She is partner marketing manager at Microsoft and also created a community of women called Rhea. Braunstein sees Rhea as a group of lady-bosses who have an open dialogue and support each other.
This community allows women to become more confident and feel a sense of belonging. They’re also trying to discover new ways to work alongside men and create a more inclusive workforce. My conversation with Braunstein gave me perspective on three things we all need to do better to bridge the gender gap.
See your unconscious biases and fight past it.
Braunstein spoke about many instances as a woman in tech where the room was filled with men and they'd sometimes make inappropriate comments and gestures. Many men lack the self-awareness and discipline to be respectful in a professional setting.
As a father of an amazing little girl, I would hate for my daughter to experience this kind of sexism. As men we need to take a second and look around the room when women are outnumbered 10:1.
We can make an extra effort to make them feel welcome. Look at your invite lists to major events. Look at the amount of people you’re interviewing and hiring. Be honest with yourself and do something to include more women.
Create safe zones for open discussions with her.
Men often get stuck in a “boy’s club” mentality and start talking about ‘manly things,’ like sports, beer and hunting, says Braunstein—topics that many women don’t always relate to. To be more inclusive, men can make time for 1:1 lunches and smaller group outings with men and women, so we can find shared experiences together.
Braunstein understands that men can be worried about taking a female coworker, employee or friend out, in fear that the meet-up may be misconstrued. But she said to stop thinking about it, and we still need to do it. Don’t take the same girl out every time. Or, create events that both genders can relate to. Those safe zones are crucial for her to open up, feel more confident and, ultimately, be successful.
Celebrate her successes openly and frequently.
Braunstein pointed out that many women are self-conscious and have doubts about themselves. They do make decisions differently and often have different fears and pressures than men do. When a manager can support her success and inspire her confidence, the outcome can be huge for her career.
It’s no secret that as men, we hold most of the powerful positions in corporate America, especially when it comes to venture capital funding. So we need to support women in every way possible. Just saying "Great job" or giving positive recommendations can go a long way.
Most people don’t change, or willingly go along with change, because a change is “the right thing to do.” They do it if there is an important reason to change. Generally, businesses don’t change their corporate cultures to better retain women just because it’s a nice thing to do. They do it if there is a compelling business reason that can increase their revenue. A more diverse workplace is proven to generate better ideas and outcomes. Bottom line, the time is now to achieve gender diversity if you want an innovative, profitable business.
So what do you say, guys; can we work together for our daughters, our wives, our mothers, our friends, our #ladybosses to get equal pay and, more importantly, create new opportunities we never imagined?