Every industry is male-dominated (and usually white-dominated). Learn five talk tracks to encourage improved gender equality.

There is no such thing as a female-dominated industry.  Yet, it is often given as the blanket excuse for low women in leadership representation with a shoulder shrug, “I am in a male-dominated industry.”

In my Corporate America experience, I never worked in a female-dominated industry – construction, consulting, financial services, higher education, and consumer packaged goods – all male-dominated.  In fact, all industries are male dominated.  Even traditional “female” industries like health care, education, and non-profits are led by men.

To be an ally for women in leadership and promote gender equality, consider these tips…

Stop accepting the excuse “male-dominated”

Male-dominated is normal.  It is the standard.  Men have created the modern workplace and organizations that women exist in today.  Modern organizations were built by men for men to succeed.  The modern workplace assumes men are not the primary caregivers, have someone supporting their household, and are the primary providers for their families.  All of these baked in assumptions (that are also largely true in the US) validate the non-inclusive workplace model that does not accommodate child caretakers and those without support in their household labor that may not be the primary caregiver.  Making the standard for men only is a recipe for disaster for gender equality.

Encourage gender inclusive language and talk tracks

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If you believe in gender equality and want to see more women in leadership, call out unhelpful behavior, also known as micro-aggressions that adversely affect women at work.  If you see or hear something, say something, especially if you do not identify as female.  It means more sometimes coming from an ally that is perceived to not have “skin in the game.”

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See something, say something

Some talk tracks for when someone says something unhelpful…

Talk Track #1:  The motherhood penalty

  • BEFORE: “She just had a baby. She does not want to travel.”
  • AFTER: “Let’s ask her what she thinks…”

Talk Track #2:  Affinity bias

  • BEFORE: “He reminds me of a younger version of myself.”
  • AFTER: “I want to mentor someone different than myself.”

Talk Track #3:  The sympathy vs. empathy trap

  • BEFORE: “Bless your heart. I feel bad that happened to you.”
  • AFTER: “I have no idea how that feels. Thank you for sharing that with me.”

Talk Track #4:  Micro-aggression management

  • BEFORE: “You cannot say that. That is so inappropriate.”
  • AFTER: “Help me understand what you mean by that.”

Talk Track #5:  Non-inclusive meetings

  • BEFORE: “Let’s get the guys together to discuss it.”
  • AFTER: “What perspective are we missing at this meeting?”

Words matter.  What we say and do are signals of what is okay in the workplace.  If you want a more inclusive workplace, you have to address the real issues holding women in leadership back.

Like this content?  Then, you will love my new book Lead Like an Ally.  Click on the link to order your copy, watch complimentary videos, and begin your ally journey.  A great place to start is by taking my free online assessment and printing my free inclusive leader checklist to kick start efforts at your organization.

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