The news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct allegations hit the front pages a few months ago, but it’s hardly been a passing memory. Since then, a sweeping wave of allegations have been made against more than 100 other high-profile men across many different industries, fueling the #MeToo and Times’ Up movements. As a result, we face a momentous moment to create real change in our culture.
Amid the growing movements, though, we’re starting to see an unintended backlash. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.org recently released some startling findings from a survey of male and female workers over the past few months, including:
● Male managers are three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women.
● Nearly 30 percent of male managers report they don’t feel comfortable working with a woman.
● Senior men were 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work dinner with a junior female colleague than a male one.
These stats took me aback. Not surprisingly, Sandberg is clearly distressed by the findings, writing in a Facebook post that such attitudes, “undoubtedly will decrease the opportunities women have at work… Men vastly outnumber women as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price."
Working Together is More Important Now Than Ever
I couldn’t agree more. It’s more important now, more than ever, for men and women to come together to forge valuable relationships that are essential to career growth. In fact, the survey also found that people with mentors are more likely to be promoted.
In response to the emerging backlash, Sandberg announced the launch of #MentorHer, a new mentorship program from LeanIn.org that encourages male leaders to mentor their female colleagues. Its goal will be to urge men to step up and use their power in the workplace to support female colleagues, and ultimately, create a more equal workplace and world.
Workplace equality is something I’m fiercely dedicated to, and mentorship plays a huge role in leveling the playing field for women. I currently serve as a mentor to women in technology through ARA Mentors, of which I’m a co-founder, and the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-Op. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have had mentors, both male and female, who have helped guide me in my career path. Starting my own firm and taking on the responsibilities of an entrepreneur would have never been possible without my mentors. I’m grateful every day.
I’m hopeful that with we’ll continue to see action come from the #MeToo and Times’ Up movement, with as little backlash as possible. Initiatives like #MentorHer will be key. We’re at a turning point in history, and it’s up to all of us to come together to create a safer workplace where everyone, regardless of sex, race, orientation and more, will thrive.