The #MeToo campaign created a stir around the world across every industry, as women came out in the open and started talking about experiences where they had been treated with any kind disrespect or bias owing to their gender.
Over the last two years, LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey partnered to understand better what men and women were experiencing in the workplace in the #MeToo era. The results will definitely surprise you:
- 60% of male managers surveyed said that they felt uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.
- As a result of the campaign and the uproar, senior-level men are now 12x more likely to hesitate to have 1-on-1 meetings, 9x more likely to hesitate to travel together for work and 6x more likely to hesitate to have work dinners
- 36% of men surveyed said that they’ve avoided mentoring or socializing with a woman because they were nervous about how it would look.
However, this is not the outcome that the campaign was hoping for. The campaign was launched to make women feel safe and secure, and to assure them that they weren’t alone. The objective was to shed light on the situations that women faced every day at work, and how these just went unnoticed.
However, one important discovery that this has made is that women need to be actively supported at work, including by mentoring and sponsoring them. And it is evident that men—who form the majority of managers and senior leaders—can help make this happen.
Mentorship is critical to the success of women across industries. The survey showed that women are 24% less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders, and 62% of women of color say the lack of an influential mentor holds them back.
Women are already an underrepresented clan in most organizations, especially at senior levels. If fewer men mentor women, fewer women will rise to leadership. As long as this imbalance of power remains, women and other marginalized groups are at greater risk of being overlooked, undermined, and harassing. On the contrary, if more men mentor women, it will ultimately lead to stronger and safer workplaces for everyone. When more women are in leadership, organizations offer employees more generous policies, produce better business results and witness lower cases of sexual assault.
Therefore, it is important to take note of the fact that simply not harassing or shunning women away at work is not the solution. The solution is to include them in key discussions, nurture them and mentor them as members of the team.