Highlights from Dr. Foust-Cummings Keynote on Men and Women Leading Together
On Thursday, March 16th, 2017, Dr. Foust-Cummings addressed Momentum’s sold-out event of 500 women and men. Here are our top three takeaways from the presentation:
1. When people feel like an “other,” companies lose talent and value.
Dr. Foust-Cummings described being an “other” as having characteristics that set them apart from the dominant group, which results in feeling like they do not belong. Anyone can feel like an “other” based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc.–this keynote focuses on gender. People who feel like “others” are more likely to be in lower ranks, receive fewer promotions, and downsize their career aspirations. The result is a loss of talent and the loss of value that diverse perspectives bring to the workplace. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Together we can create workplaces where everyone is valued.
2. Engaging men is a critical pathway to inclusive workplaces.
When men are aware of the exclusion experienced by “others” they can become part of the solution to create more inclusive workplaces. Men are the key stakeholders in most workplaces, yet less than half of men think of gender-stereotyping as a barrier to women’s advancement, and many others fear reverse discrimination. However, the more men were aware of gender bias, the more likely they were to say that achieving gender equality is important. Dr. Foust-Cummings presented three ways to develop awareness of gender inequality:
1) willingness to define success factors outside of masculine norms,
2) exposure to women mentors, and 3) creating fair play policies.
3. Individually, we can take steps toward a more inclusive workplace environment.
Men can: tell their male peers about commitment to a gender-inclusive workplace, listen and validate the experiences of women colleagues, sponsor an emerging woman leader, get involved in a community that advocates gender-equality (for instance, Catalyst’s online community, MARC, www.onthemarc.org)
Women can: mentor a man, engage in open dialogue with men on gender issues, get involved in a community that advocates gender-equality.
People, businesses, and communities thrive when there is a mutual sense of belonging. Let’s not be afraid to talk about the need for inclusive workplaces. It’s the critical first step to making sure our most talented people reach the top.
Photo credit: Bang Images