I recently read a great article by one of my favorite authors, Adam Grant. Adam Grant is a bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals and Option B books. In his article: Men Are Afraid to Mentor Women. Here’s What We Can Do About It, Adam Grant shares a story about a Fortune 500 CEO that calls him to state that due to the #MeToo movement, men in positions of leadership are now afraid to mentor or sponsor women in their corporations because they may be “accused of harassment, or people thinking the wrong thing or doing something that might make a woman uncomfortable.”
His article goes on to state that women are not getting a fair shake and with the Harvey Weinsteins of the world that situation may get even worst. He has a call to action to men to do three (3) things:
- Hold themselves & their colleagues accountable for Parity. Don’t go off to the strip clubs to discuss business
- Instead of Running from the discomfort, ask about it. Be sincere and befriend women, ask them for clarity
- Build Mentor networks.
If you are afraid to mentor 1 women at a time mentor 10 at a time
Then he advises that he has committed to #MentorHer and ask other men to join. Great article and good start but certainly I would be surprised if it moved many if any men in positions of power and authority to reevaluate their biases or fears.
I am glad to have been in the workforce long enough to witness this tsunami. As a woman that entered the workforce in the 70’s I have enough #MeToo stories to write a couple of books. What gets me upset is that the CEO of that Fortune 500 company is so gullible that he actually believes that men that mentioned their fears are not the ones that are the problem.
Those men who expressed a fear, would take this very positive movement to create a better society and workforce are usually exactly the ones that have been perpetrating the kind of behavior that is now having a light shed on them. I’m not interested in a work environment that favors one gender over another, but let’s be real: Women have never had any advantage and men have had all of the power. I’m not surprised but disappointed that the CEOs around the world haven’t realized it’s their lack of attention to this situation that is the problem not women finally finding their courage to speak up and speak out.
I advised my daughters they have one natural predator, it is a man. Women don’t usually assault women, women don’t usually kill women. Ever girl and women must constantly be aware when she is out alone or in a work environment that a man is the one that can inflict true harm to her physically. It’s a man through his position power that can take away her ability to make money to feed her children and keep them safe. But these CEOs are concerned that some men in high places are afraid to mentor women. My eyes were rolling when I read that.
I have worked with a lot of great men. Men that did not feel the need to demean me. Men that did not diminish me in words or deeds. I have worked with men that were very generous in sharing their knowledge, influence and mentorship. Those men were courageous when no one was asking or looking. Just as I have worked with men that gave lip service to mentorship when they were never truly on board and thought and treated me and other women as insects invading their special places.
So Adam Grant, I applaud you and your efforts to advise your friend the CEO to reach out and provide a hand up to women in the workforce, but the real advice you should have given to your CEO friend is get off your butt and stop giving lip service and get serious. As the head of the organization I challenge them to add more women in positions of power and authority. I am always amazed when the directive from the top is to hire more women but there are few if any surrounding the CEO. Maybe if he walked the talk and lead by example his company would move forward a lot faster.
The business case already exist that proves that the organization that has more women on boards and in leadership usually has better ROIs. Obviously, that is not as important as maintaining male dominance and control. I have been informed by many well meaning and confused men that the reason we don’t have more women in positions of power and authority is because women lack….. fill in the blank (Experience, Knowledge, Skills, etc). Again I have worked long enough to clearly state that many of men I’ve worked with and for were more inadequate in their position than many Women would have been.
Let’s just understand #MeToo is about the men that bully and exert their power over those that are not in a position to fight back literally or Financially.
So to all the CEOs that sit in their Ivory tower and shake their heads that the #MeToo will make it harder to ask their Male Leaders to Mentor their Female up and comers. I ask, are you just looking for an excuse to maintain the status quo or do you really embrace the future of gender diversity in your Organization?