More Men want to help Women at Work, but they don’t now how, a new Study suggests. Women’s Equality Day is a reminder of how far we’ve come in progressing gender equality. There was a time when women had to fight for the right to vote and having six female candidates running for president would’ve been unfathomable. But, despite our progress, we are still far from true gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum, if we keep progressing at the current rate, we won’t reach global gender parity for at least 200 years. 

Women want to see more female leaders, they want to be paid the same for equal work and, most importantly, they want to be awarded the same opportunities as their male peers. So, how do we get there — and how can we do it in less than 200 years?

Experts tend to agree that men are one of the keys to driving more parity. We know that as men advance to the highest levels of organizations, they’re more likely to promote men than women. If men continue to primarily promote other men and dominate decision-making processes, there will never be a network of women robust enough to evoke change. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of male allies in the workplace who want to help women. New research from Fairygodboss surveyed 400 men and found that the majority of respondents (88%) say they want to help women advance in the workplace, but they don’t know the best actions to take.

Engaging male allies in discussions about gender diversity and equality is crucial to them understanding how to support women and feeling the drive to do so. Research from BCG “shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.” (HBR) When women’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) engage male allies, they utilize positive peer pressure to spread a culture of accountability and inclusivity throughout the workplace and, ultimately, help drive towards more parity.

In addition, the most recent Women in the Workplace Report by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org states that unbiased hiring and promotion practices are critical to achieving gender equality. However, male respondents didn’t see fair hiring and promotion practices as key factors in helping women achieve equality. Male hiring managers cited “women not applying to their jobs” and a “lack of women in the workforce” as the top 2 reasons why they don’t hire more women, despite the fact that women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, signaling a disconnect between the biases women face in the workplace and the male managers who must address theses biases.

In fact, 39% of respondents say they believe the best thing they can do to help advance gender equality is to advocate for women, while only 13% said promoting more women and 12% said hiring more women. Although a nice sentiment, “advocating for women” doesn’t define concrete actions that men can take to help at the root causes of gender inequality.

When directly asked what women can do to make it easier for men to be successful allies, half of all respondents said women should tell them what they can do to help. While this does seem to put the burden back on female employees, it also gives women the opportunity to direct company actions in a way that will best help them. 

Women’s ERG leaders will have the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss ideas about how to work with male allies towards gender diversity at Fairygodboss’ third annual GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful summit. This year’s theme is Engaging Men As Allies, and notable speakers include Bozoma Saint John (CMO at Endeavor), Anne Chow (President of National Business at AT&T), David Kenny (CEO and Chief Diversity Officer of Nielsen), Jacqui Canney (Global Chief People Officer at WPP), and Joe Ucuzoglu (CEO of US at Deloitte).

Men say they’re willing to listen and want to help, so now is the time for women to speak up and men to show up. Attending women’s ERG events such as GALVANIZE can be a strong initial step towards making that happen

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