We asked our members to share why they think it is important to support the empowerment of women.
Men comprise most of our technical & leadership populations—if we’re going to be intentionally inclusive, we need to make men part of this conversation. Historically, diversity initiatives focused on under-represented populations had the tendency to alienate men, when what we really needed was to bring the men on board. Inclusivity is good for business and can benefit the entire workforce. Practically speaking, as men hold most leadership roles, they are in the best position to lead by example and drive change.
Today, men hold the majority of positions of power and influence in the modern corporate world. To see real change, men need to be involved in and champion empowerment of women at all levels. The common misconception is that it’s about women gaining ground at the expense of men, even if they aren’t qualified. That’s just not true and the all of the intelligent, driven women I know wouldn’t want to be promoted just because they are women. The goal is the recognition that we all come from different backgrounds and each and everyone one of us has both privileges and headwinds we are facing. It’s is not the achievement in spite of differences that drives me, it is the ability to tap into the unique talents of each of us to achieve more than we could have alone.
I’m honored to be asked this question! However, the fact that the question is even being asked means we have a lot of work to do in this area. It has been my experience that women bring a unique point of view and voice to the table. They enrich the strategic conversations and are better at seeing nuance and gray areas than their male counterparts. Without women at the table some of these gray area points of view can get lost in a “just get it done” male mentality. For example, in the accounting industry, life/work balance wasn’t really considered a growth and business strategy until women had a seat at the table. To succeed in business today, it’s critical for leaders to create an environment of empowerment for all of the people they have the honor of leading. This means ensuring their team members have the tools and opportunities they need to carve out a path to success for themselves and ultimately for the organization
In the US, there is a history of a patriarchal corporate environment. And while that has improved dramatically in the last four decades, there is still room to continue to ensure women are getting equal opportunity to compete for roles and contribute in leadership positions. My view on this topic has solidified as my wife worked as a project engineer for the first 10 years past her engineering degree, and my daughter has now entered the work force as an engineer as well. I want my daughter to be given equal opportunity to compete for roles and to lead. She has worked hard for her degree and should be able to advance in corporate America without any more burden than her male co-workers.
It’s simple – a workplace that is better for women, or any under-represented group, is also better for men. The conversation around gender equity must occur at various levels and come from multiple directions. At our company, men are currently the majority in most functions and leadership roles. They are in a place to influence and advocate for the right behaviors and help break down biases. In order to do this, men must understand and be a part of the conversation and not just outsiders or the source of the issue. Along with women, they must become leaders in effectively applying inclusion and diversity.