Women in Business Top Myth #2: Men are excluded

Last week I shared my thoughts on the top myths, that in my opinion, hindered African women from advancing to the top of their various fields (especially in the corporate and political sectors). I discussed the first myth, which was Women occupying Leadership roles is not an African Concept.

Today I would like us to unravel another myth together.

Myth #2: Men are excluded, as the promotion of women leadership concerns only Women

Several times, in various places around the globe, women have come together to participate in organized rallies and peaceful protests for one cause or the other. The successes of these events have needed the help of men because, let’s face it: we cannot arrive at gender equality on our own. We need the other half of the family, the community, the business world, and the economic environment to participate and also stand for what is right.

In business, we need the men to include us in the universal “leadership club”. I actually believe that our African men recognize that our substantial participation (especially in leadership roles) will improve the economy (both local and global. We only need their assistance in openly acknowledging, accepting and helping us execute to our full potential. We need to progress from a world where women are abused physically, emotionally and mentally, to a world where the men in our lives stand up for our rights and amplify their voices against any form of discrimination and inequality so that silence is no longer the status quo.

As Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton put it in her September 5, 1995 speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, “Let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.

 

Photo credit: MSNBC

Emma Watson also tendered an invitation to men to participate tangibly in gender equality issues. She started a HeforShe campaign, which encourages men to participate in, and take a stand against gender inequality. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

How can men help women in business to thrive?

Choose a woman in business to mentor. Its that  simple. As Jane Porter put it in her “Yes, Gender is A Men’s Issue” article,

Having a senior leader who takes an active role in helping you move up in your company and career — also known as sponsorship — is a key way to fast-track your success. People with sponsors are 23% more likely to move up in their career than those without sponsors, according to research out of the Center for Talent Innovation.
Yet women are far less likely to have sponsors than men, which puts them at a clear disadvantage. “Sponsorship tends to power-replicate itself,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation. The reason for that? Trust is a big part of the equation in sponsorship relationships, says Hewlett. “Trust does not often cross gender and race because it’s easier to trust a mini-me,” she says. But awareness is the first step in making a change. Recognizing those patterns, men in leadership positions can take a more active role in sponsoring women.

Be Open-minded

Above all, our men need to be open-minded, and willing to change perceptions where women are concerned. A paradigm shift in mindset has to be activated as more and more women join the work force and the men take on the caring aspects of the home. Adoption of role reversals where necessary needs to accommodated and the realization that positive changes towards women in leadership roles is imminent. Only when our current gender biased society accepts this will women fully participate and be enabled to contribute to the growth in the economies and development of countries worldwide.

I end with the words of English statesman Edward Burke, quoted recently by Emma Watson:

All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good MEN and women to do nothing.

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