Dear Men: Please Don't Be An Ally. Be An Advocate.

4 Min Read

Dear Men:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Actively work with recruiting to demand balanced and diverse slates for roles and work to hire the right person for the right role.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Attend women's business resource group events, and try to bring at least three male colleagues with you. Show up. Be present. Engage.
  8. 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.
  9. Encourage women and men to take paid parental leave. Set the example. If you have the opportunity, take paid parental leave as well.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

This article was originally published March 4, 2020.

3 min read

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.


Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.

I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!

- The Armchair Psychologist

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