Pssst…the real reason why we should #MentorHer
“Since the recent media reports of sexual harassment, almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.”
As you read that quote, you may be thinking, “That’s not me.” Which is music to our ears.
But we’ve met some of those other men. Like the business unit leader who told us, “My wife gets jealous when I have a work dinner with a female co-worker.” And then asked, “How should I handle that?” Our snarky side wanted to scream at him to go to couples’ therapy. Instead, we bit our lip and said, “You could always bring along another co-worker.”
Unfortunately, these guys exist. And, as we learned this week, there’s more of them than ever before.
LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey released this Sexual Harassment Backlash Survey. In it, they report that twice as many male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman since the #MeToo movement started. Yes, twice as many. A change in attitude in only four months.
So, even though you may not be one of them, you’ve got work to do. In fact, we all have work to do.
First of all, don’t become part of this trend. We should check ourselves often. Reflect back on our week, and ask if we avoided being alone with a female co-worker. If we answer “yup” or “well, maybe,” we’ve got work to do.
Next, become a role model for other guys. As the LeanIn team recommends, we can #MentorHer. Informally or formally, it can make a difference. Respond to that next email from a woman seeking our advice. Tell the women’s group at your company you are available to be a mentor. Volunteer through a mentoring program.
By the way, mentoring is a two-way street. By sharing our experience and advice with women, sure we have the opportunity to help them grow in their careers. At the same time, we can learn from them, and grow our own careers.
And that, my friends, may be the most compelling reason why we shouldn’t avoid workplace activities with women.
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