You have heard all of the statistics before.
There are not enough women at the top, not as the CEO, not at the Board table, and not in the C-Suite. The glass ceiling sometimes seems like a concrete ceiling.
Women in middle management are dropping out of the workforce. There aren't enough women with sponsors to give them access to career opportunities and be there to help navigate their careers.
Women are still being told that they are too bossy, too aggressive, too confident when they ask for more money. Women are being told they are too passive, too timid, too shy when they don't.
Women are being told they can't be great mothers and great leaders.
Women are being told they just need more points on the board for that next promotion, when they have twice as many points as the men already.
Not enough women are being listened to and believed when they say: #MeToo.
And so Men, we have asked you to help. We have asked you to be allies. So many of you have raised your hands, been at the front of the line, have been proud to say, "Yes, I am an ally! I am here to help!"
But being an ally, well, it's just not good enough.
For the world to truly change for women, we need men to be agents of change. We need you to be advocates.
We need you to go beyond being allies — someone who sits on the sidelines and cheers when we score. We need you to become an advocate — someone who publicly stands up and actively fights to transform our workplaces. Because that's what advocates do.
So to all of the men reading this.
You want to help. You don't know where to begin. You feel anxious, unsure. You don't know if it's your place to do this.
We are asking you. We are giving you permission. We are telling you, you need to be advocates. Because if you don't do it, who will?
And so let me give you a place to start. Here are fifteen ways you can start being an advocate for women by transforming our workplaces, starting today:
- Make a public pledge to build a gender-balanced team. It doesn't matter how big or small your team is — you can advocate for gender balance. And influence others to do the same.
- Invest $$$ in external organizations for access to diverse talent pools. Second Shift, Society of Women Engineers, and Financial Women's Association are a few places to start. Invest your dollars with these organizations to invest in access to the pipeline.
- Actively work with recruiting to demand balanced and diverse slates for roles and work to hire the right person for the right role.
- Stop biased language. "She should smile more." "She lacks gravitas." "She is bossy and aggressive." Ask yourself — would you use that language to describe a male leader?
- Decline panel invitations where only men are panelists, and demand that women to be included. Give your spot up to make the point. Also, it's not enough if only white women are included.
- Be active on LinkedIn and social channels. Share your views by posting articles, commenting, liking, sharing. Don't be a silent advocate, show us and the rest of the world that you really are an advocate for women.
- Attend women's business resource group events, and try to bring at least three male colleagues with you. Show up. Be present. Engage.
- Fight for policies that impact us all: paid parental leave, mother's rooms, in vitro fertilization and egg freezing medical coverage, financial assistance for adoption, Milk Stork, phase back to work programs for new parents, offering resources to deal with teenage cyber bullying, job share opportunities, remote working and much more.
- Encourage women and men to take paid parental leave. Set the example. If you have the opportunity, take paid parental leave as well.
- Lead a mentoring/coaching circle for women. Offer your insights and guidance. More importantly, listen to the voices of these women. Learn about their experiences.
- Step up to do "menial" office work: take notes, order lunch, set up the technology for the meeting. If women are doing all the office work on your team, then intervene. Ask the men to step up.
- Publicly sponsor a woman. Use your political capital to help advance her career. Introduce her to other senior leaders. Get her on that taskforce. Put her name on the slate for a role she wasn't even on the radar for. Give her the access.
- Ask to be one of the Executive Sponsors for your company's women's business resource group instead of creating a "Men as Allies" group. Or join the business resource group's leadership team.
- Stop mansplaining. If you see a woman being interrupted. Her idea being stolen. A woman dismissed or ignored in a meeting. Stand up for her publicly — and not after the moment has passed.
- Stop bullying and harassment in its tracks. Don't be that leader who says or does nothing. And don't be that leader who waits for HR to jump in. Be the leader we need you to be.
Finally, find at least one other man in your workplace to join you in being an advocate for women. Ask him to do the above, and then do it together.
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The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist