Men rule the world……or so it seems when the lion’s share of men sit in the executive suite across America. And in 2018, the share of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 dropped by 25% and now make up less than 5% of all CEOs. Crazy, right?
That means we need to double our efforts to advance change in the workplace and gender parity. Women make up over 51% of managers, yet so few rise to the C-suite. Even more telling, is the fact that women in the C suite are less likely to have positions with direct reports and profit-and-loss responsibility.
I have said it many, many times. It takes a sponsor to support and guide your career, one who can make a huge difference in your career projection.
We know that male champions believe gender inclusiveness means involving both men and women in advancing women’s leadership. They are career enablers who enhance visibility among top leadership and actively push for women’s advancement.
Real sponsors actively drive advancement through concrete actions: they open doors, recommend women for promotions, and propose existing opportunities at the top. Yes, that is a real sponsor!
So how do you recognize a male sponsor?
Related: Gender Parity: Is it Law or Guts?
Well there are several key traits of a true male champion:
- Male champions use their authority to create a more inclusive culture within the organization. That means they actively advocate and use their power for both men and women to be part of the interview pool for open positions, no matter what the position. That means they call out stereotypes and implicit bias. That means they “talk the talk and walk the walk” on gender parity.
- Male champions make gender parity a priority in hiring and talent management strategies. They believe that women’s advancement must be ingrained in all corporate practices and cultures and women must be systematically and actively included in succession plans. And they promote the awareness of women’s specific issues which can change the practices of other men to automatically recruit/promote other men.
- Male champions work to increase the visibility of the women they work with. They are strong advocates for programs & forums to develop women as leaders, enhance their visibility among top leadership and actively push for women’s advancement. And they believe that what is good for women will be good for men.
- Male champions value diversity and improve the leadership skills of the people they work with. Most male sponsors don’t realize they are actually championing gender parity. They just believe that you develop people who can be better than you, period. They welcome a broad range of leadership styles to ensure no talent is bypassed. They believe that your voice is important and you can be your own champion. They enable other’s leadership and recognize them for their achievements. They are comfortable in their own leadership skin.
Male champions come in all sizes. But the one thing they have in common is their courage and persistence in order to overcome resistance to gender inclusiveness. They believe in the value of gender equity in the workplace and are willing to stand up for it.
Men play a crucial role in gender equity in the workplace. And the female leaders who have been championed by them come away with the confidence that they belong at the table and have the right to be there.
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