Palo Alto-based LeanIn.Org recently rolled out #MentorHer, a campaign that calls on men to mentor women. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s abundantly clear that sexual harassment must stop. But there is also evidence of a backlash that could be harmful to women: A recent survey by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey shows almost half of male managers are now uncomfortable participating in common work activities with women, including working alone and mentoring.
This runs in sharp contrast to what we need to do to make our workplaces stronger and safer for everyone. If we’re going to change the power dynamics that give rise to sexual harassment, we need to make sure women get more of the high-quality mentorship that advances careers. When companies have more female leaders, they offer more generous employee policies and produce better business results. And when organizations employ more women, sexual harassment is less prevalent.
Other findings from the LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey are also troubling. Since the media reports of sexual harassment, male managers are twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman, and the number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman. The survey also found that senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior woman than a junior man–and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior woman. To read the full set of findings, go to leanin.org/mentorher-data.
“The last thing women need right now is even more isolation. Men vastly outnumber us as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of LeanIn.Org. “Men who want to be on the right side of this issue shouldn’t avoid women. They should mentor them.” You can read a Facebook post written today by Sandberg explaining the critical need for male mentorship here.
At leanin.org/mentorher, LeanIn.Org uses research-backed information to explain why male mentorship matters now more than ever and offers tips for how to be an effective mentor to women. As one example, women are often excluded from team activities and business travel, so they have fewer opportunities to build valuable relationships. To combat this, male mentors should introduce women to influential people in their network and make sure the women they work with get equal access – for example, if men are uncomfortable going to dinner with female colleagues, they should meet everyone for breakfast.
At the MAKERS Conference today – which this year includes a call-to-action for men to raise their voices in support of women – Sandberg will discuss the importance of men mentoring women in a panel conversation with Laphonza Butler, a leading voice in the labor movement, and Dr. David Smith, co-author of Athena Rising and an expert on male mentorship. The panel will be livestreamed here at 4:10PM PT.
A wide range of business leaders are publicly committing to #MentorHer including: Tim Armstrong (Oath), Richard Barth (KIPP), Dominic Barton (McKinsey & Co.), Mary Barra (GM), Ed Bastian (Delta), Stacey Bendet (Alice + Olivia), Tory Burch (Tory Burch), Safra Catz (Oracle), Brian Chesky (Airbnb), Vittorio Colao (Vodafone), Joanna Coles (Hearst), Beth Comstock (GE), Mohamed El-Erian (Allianz), Michael Fraccaro (Mastercard), Diane von Furstenberg (DVF), Melinda Gates (Gates Foundation), Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans), Adam Grant (Wharton School), Reed Hastings (Netflix), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, Greylock), Arianna Huffington (Thrive Global), Bob Iger (Disney), Richard Lesser (BCG), Javier Palomarez (USHCC), Terry Lundgren (Macy’s), Zander Lurie (SurveyMonkey), Bob Moritz (PwC), Paul Polman & Keith Weed (Unilever), Stacy Brown-Philpot (TaskRabbit), James Quincey (Coca-Cola), Spencer Rascoff & Amy Bohutinsky (Zillow Group), Chuck Robbins (Cisco), Andrew Robertson (BBDO), Irene Rosenfeld (Mondelez), Dan Schulman (PayPal), Adam Silver (NBA), Brad Smith (Intuit), Steve Squeri (American Express), David Taylor, Carolyn Tastad & Marc Pritchard (P&G), Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn), Meg Whitman and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook). To raise awareness of the importance of men mentoring women, people are encouraged to post to social media with the #MentorHer hashtag.
“We’re encouraged to see so many male business leaders publicly support #MentorHer,” said Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org. “If we want our workplaces to be safer and more respectful to women, men have to be part of the solution.” You can read an open letter to men on the topic written by Thomas and Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, here.
Mentorship is critically important for all employees. Studies show that people with mentors are more likely to get promoted than people without mentors. Yet on average, women receive less of the mentorship and sponsorship that matters, particularly women of color. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company’s 2017 Women in the Workplace study found that women of color receive less career advice than white women and that managers and senior leaders are less likely to advocate on their behalf.
LeanIn.Org is an initiative of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation to help women achieve their ambitions and works to create an equal world. LeanIn.Org offers inspiration and support through an online community, free education materials, and Lean In Circles, small groups of peers who meet regularly to support each other and learn new skills. The Lean In community includes over 2 million women and men and 35,000 Lean In Circles in more than 150 countries.
Edited by G. Davila
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