After #MeToo, the role of men in the workplace
February 12 2018

K. Sujata
Crain’s Chicago Business

For months, we have walked along the razor’s edge with #MeToo. On one side, a cultural change in which women’s experiences of harassment are believed and men are held accountable for their actions. On the other, a backlash in which women’s opportunities are limited by gender-segregated workplaces in a misguided attempt to end harassment.

The results of a new poll by LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey suggest the backlash may have arrived: Nearly 30 percent of male managers reported feeling “uncomfortable working alone with a woman.” The number of male managers who report feeling uncomfortable mentoring women tripled, from 5 percent to 16.

There isn’t much ground to lose: Women already report receiving less advice from managers and less access to senior leaders, according to the Women in the Workplace 2017 report by McKinsey and LeanIn, negatively impacting their opportunity for advancement.

#MeToo is a necessary reckoning with harassment and abuse of women. The flood of revelations have been overwhelming, exhilarating and terrifying for women and men. But this is not an issue of women versus men—we cannot retreat into separate camps. We all have a role to play in ending harassment and building more equitable workplaces.

As a grantmaker, we are supporting local efforts to address sexual violence and harassment through collaborations between low-wage workers and advocates at organizations including Chicago Workers Collaborative, Healing to Action and Warehouse Workers for Justice.

But, according to the LeanIn/SurveyMonkey poll, half of respondents said their companies have not responded to the #MeToo movement by updating policies or offering employee guidance or training.

Corporate leaders play a critical role in creating a culture in which women feel empowered to speak up when they are uncomfortable. The first step is to make sure there are women at the top. To increase the number of women in leadership, companies need to pay close attention to hiring and promotion practices.

According to Women in the Workplace 2017, fewer entry-level women are hired to begin with, and the proportion of women declines at every level of the corporate pipeline, most significantly from entry-level to management. Reviewing hiring and promotion practices for gender parity is a first step. Companies can institute implicit bias training and make representation and diversity a pillar of executive recruitment.

Men in positions of leadership have a critical role to play, too. Men can be champions of change by increasing their commitment to mentor women. They can champion women for promotions and leadership opportunities. They can bring women to the table by requiring diverse voices at public speaking engagements. They can listen to women, speak up when they witness bias or harassment, and hold other men accountable. Change is uncomfortable, but necessary.

After months on the edge, we are all finding our balance and establishing a new equilibrium. We must continue to have honest conversations about how to move forward together. This is why Chicago Foundation for Women chose #MeToo as the theme for this year’s Talk It Out, our annual conversation series bringing Chicagoans together to spark understanding about gender bias.

If we are going to end sexual harassment and gender bias in our lifetime, we need to keep this conversation going, and women and men need to have it together.

Read original article here.