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Dear Men: Don’t Celebrate Us During Women’s History Month, Join Us

When women succeed at work, we all win. The World Economic Forum has found that closing the gender gap could increase our GDP by 35% on average, improve efficiency and productivity, and even lead to higher wages for men.

I have been blessed with the support of some amazing men throughout my career. Here are five things they did for me that all men should do to help women succeed:

Mentioning our names behind closed doors

In every room you are in, bring us up. Talk about our work, our skills, our abilities. Showcase our successes. Brag about our victories. And ask if you can take us. We need you to defend our interests in the rooms we haven’t entered yet.

At a previous agency, a male VP fought for me to attend a presentation with one of my dream clients, a presentation I helped create. He knew I was passionate about the brand and wanted me to be in the room representing my discipline. Even when the others pushed back, he held on. His support made the pitch – which we won – one of my favorite cases to date.

Invest us time

You can start small by investing time in the women around you, and I promise you will see them flourish.

After starting my career as a social strategist, I passionately wanted to be a brand planner but didn’t see a clear path. Our brand strategy manager listened to my desire and answered my questions. When he needed help on a project, he let me take the lead and worked alongside him. His investment paid off and set me on the path to my current position.

Try to see things from our point of view

When you hear colleagues or friends complaining about how they were treated, you may not recognize the cumulative effect these experiences have had on them. But they look to you to understand where they’re coming from and to have empathy.

Recently, after a colleague’s inappropriate behavior made me feel uncomfortable, I shared what happened with a mutual friend. Instead of downplaying the incident, he was angry at what had happened and asked me how I wanted to handle it. Her validation of my experience and willingness to follow my example was what I needed to feel heard and seen.

Defend us when we are mistreated

I have been discussed, ignored and harassed by men throughout my career. My words have been stolen, my thoughts minimized, my voice drowned out and my body analyzed. And I’m not alone. Zoe Scaman’s article — a perfect read for Women’s History Month — highlights just how prevalent this is in our industry and beyond.

But I also had men who fought back on my behalf. A small but significant example is a client I was working with. Whenever I was in a room or in communication with his team, if a man repeated what I was saying or spoke over me, he would interrupt them and explain that I had already said that or ask me to finish my thought . He never gave them the satisfaction of talking over or for me. He made sure my voice was heard.

Promote us and pay us what we are worth

Words of affirmation are nice, but the way to truly recognize women’s contributions to your organization is to pay them what they’re worth – on par with men in similar roles – and make sure their title matches. to their contribution. Organizations that do this will win in the long run, and those that don’t will lag behind, losing valuable talent along the way.

We are not looking for you to be our knights in shining armor. Believe me, most women can — and want — to take care of themselves and stand up for themselves. But we want you to call out blatant iniquity when you see it. When men lead by example in this way, they make it clear that inclusion, support and advocacy for women is encouraged in their organization.

We’re just asking you to be part of the solution. Instead of celebrating women this month, write history with us in the rooms we share. We will do it with or without you, but we would really like it to be with you.

Check out all of Ad Age’s 2022 A-List winners here.

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.