Different Lenses

Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Essay from December 12th caught my attention. Women at Work: A Guide for Men may seem like it’s a few decades too late, but I found it interesting on the heels of few different conversations that have found their way into my life at the moment. For a current client project, we’re focusing on engaging half of the staff, plus one. While obviously we’d like to engage more than that, the thinking is that if we’ve got a majority (even the minimal majority of 50% plus 1) of the staff on board, change will be inevitable. Not wholly unrelated is the UN Women’s campaign HeforShe, a solidarity movement for gender equality, based on the idea that gender equality shouldn’t be a women’s issue led only by women. We’ll need the majority of the world to make real change, and that includes men.

When looking at change, be it behavior in an organization or discrimination of any kind, it makes sense that the change will be more successful with more people involved. We spend a lot of time focusing on women mentoring women, and let me be clear – I think there is tremendous value in that. That doesn’t mean, however, that men can’t also play a role in helping women up the career ladder. Managers and those at the top of the ladder are responsible for helping to cultivate the next generation of leaders, regardless of gender. I think to pretend we all approach things the same, however, is naïve and anything we can do to understand the lens of others is time well-spent – gender, generational, socio-economic, cultural, and so on. Whose shoes can you walk in for a bit to adjust your own lens?

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