The men I know and worked with in Tech, Advertising and Media were good men with good intentions. They wanted to see me and other women succeed - they weren't creepy or touchy. They were and are friends and mentors. That being said, they, like all of us (including women) have their own blind spots and aren't able to clearly see the ways they unintentionally support men in more meaningful ways than women. So, for all you men out there and my former colleagues who are searching for ways to better support women on your team here is a tip for you - Ensure Women Are Heard. I know you probably think you are doing this, and some of you are but some can likely improve on this skill. Your homework assignment:
1. Read this article written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Why Women Stay Quiet at Work. It is just one example of how Unconscious Bias silences women or penalizes the ones who speak up.
2. Create meeting rules to ensure everyone is heard equally. Ensure women aren't being talked over by men and ideas are credited to the rightful owner. This takes active listening and engagement by the manager / meeting leader. It brings a new purpose and meaning to a daily occurrence.
3. Observe where ideas are coming from and for the women you deem meek or the women you deem aggressive - check those thoughts and dig deeper to understand why they behave that way or why you perceive them to behave that way.
4. Rinse and repeat. Keep this article save it. (I did, it's from last year). Add it to your calendar 3 months from now so you can read it again and remind yourself of the very important role you play as a leader and the opportunity you can provide to women on your team to feel heard, to feel appreciated and to feel mentored. That's an ally!