Supporting women leaders isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. It’s actually become rather complicated in today’s climate. I had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah Rocco on my REAL Life Lessons Women Lead Radio show and she described how men and women can navigate this sticky issue and work together to support women at work.
“We all make mistakes,” Debbie said. As we move forward and try new ways to be inclusive and supportive, we will occasionally say the wrong things and organizations will try new policies and programs that will sometimes fail, but that’s okay. The key is to move forward with good intentions and learn from our mistakes. Together, we’ll get there.
Men are an important part of the equation. In fact, they are half the equation. Debbie talks about how women and men can align with each other to support women leaders. A key lesson here is not to scare men away from supporting women, as we’re seeing from the backlash to the #MeToo movement. Yes, we need to hold people accountable, and we also need to help people learn from their mistakes and bring them into the conversations to move forward.
Holding back judgment is often difficult for us, but it’s another part of the equation—for both men and women. Research shows that women are equally responsible as men for gender stereotyping. We’re also all responsible for letting others make different choices from our own and being supportive of these differences the best we can. For example, you may not agree with someone’s decision to take—or not take—maternity or paternity leave because you hold strong beliefs around the subject, but an individual still has to do what’s best for them. It can be hard to hold back judgment in these cases.
When it comes to ourselves, it’s not black and white either. It takes time and effort to get in touch with our inner selves, to know what we want and understand who we are. And it’s more complicated than that because we are constantly changing. The environment around us changes and our values shift as we move through different stages in life. Debbie says that we need to regularly check in with ourselves, at least once a year.
Debbie offers many more insights and tips for women and men, and organizations as well, as we all navigate through the gray area of inviting women leaders to the table and not letting them slip off the glass cliff along the way. To learn more, listen right now.