2018 is proving to be a busy year for gender issues: the escalation of the #MeToo movement (started back in 2006), the 100th anniversary of women over 30 and all men over 21 winning the right to vote (6th February) and the first deadline for gender pay reporting for larger businesses in the UK (4th April).
However, a worrying recent study from LeanIn.Org, Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit women’s empowerment organisation, and Survey Monkey, has revealed that the heightened publicity and media reports regarding sexual harassment cases has led to an increasing number of men saying they are uncomfortable mentoring women and uncomfortable working alone with a woman.
Surely, this has to be bad news for both men and women?
LeanIn.Org has therefore stepped in with a new initiative called #MentorHer to try and combat this negative backlash. The campaign is aimed at actively encouraging more men to mentor female colleagues and already has the backing of many high profile male business leaders including Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Disney’s Bob Iger.
The remit for #MentorHer is to promote the importance of mentorship between genders as a practical way to help achieve gender parity in the workplace. Successful female leaders often rely on support from male mentors and sponsors to progress within their organisation. So, this campaign is aimed at dismantling some of the invisible barriers between men and women in the workplace, sometimes termed as the ‘sex partition’. LeanIn.Org believes that if more men mentor women, they will help create stronger and safer workplaces for everyone. Their research has shown that when more women are in leadership, organisations offer employees more generous and flexible policies and the businesses produce better business results.
Providing more structure and support to help both men and women establish appropriate boundaries at work, can allow them to develop friendships and business mentoring relationships, which has to be a more positive approach. Anything that helps promote tolerance and understanding in the workplace will benefit not only men and women, but their organisations too.
Related HR Article: Workplace Bias in the Workplace
Further Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg