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Men’s Role in Women’s Empowerment

For too long women weren’t offered a seat at the table. Then they were offered a seat at the table as a token gesture but their voice in the workplace was stifled. We’ve seen too many instances of men speaking in place of women to stay silent about this.

The concept of a glass ceiling has been a barrier faced by women for decades, it describes the hurdles women face as they attempt to advance their careers. But did you know that women control about $20 trillion in annual global spending? And that figure it expected to rise to $28 trillion in the next five years.

Women represent a growth market that’s larger than double the size of China and India combined. For financial reasons alone, it’s foolish to ignore women in the consumer product market, but so many companies turn a blind eye to this key demographic.

In the US alone, more than 1,800 new businesses are started every day by women. And why not? Women earn the majority of college degrees and occupy about half of our total workforce (women are actually on track to surpass the number of working men but are still paid significantly less on average). Today women lead 167 of our top 3,000 companies; it’s more than double when compared to 10 years ago but it’s not even 6%. These points beg the question—why are so few companies run by women?

We applaud the men who have used their position and voice to amplify equal rights for women. Empowering qualified women to hold decision-making roles in the workplace needs to be a key business strategy for every company. More concerning, however; some brands hire female figureheads as sort of a “spokesperson” for appearances but it’s the men in the background who control the daily operations and are making key decisions.

It’s concerning that some companies see the gender barrier and make aesthetic but meaningless attempts to empower women. A common fear is that engaging men in the conversation of women’s empowerment will distract from the goal or that men will overtake the conversation of action but we think ambitions should be set on finding common ground. What can be a man’s role in striving for gender equality?

Men, we encourage you to take action to defend women’s rights and amplify stifled voices by:

  • speaking out about violence against women
  • support victims who have bravely come forward with their experiences
  • raise awareness about sexism in the workplace
  • encourage your children’s school to have age-appropriate conversations about gender bias
  • challenge others when you see sexist behavior, misogyny, and violence by calling it out

Creating a culture of women’s empowerment takes time and effort and it will take hard work to reshape cultures. A key first step is to amplify our peer’s voices and highlight each other’s contributions and accomplishments. An individual can easily be overlooked but when we band together we create a powerful voice that can’t be ignored.

We encourage companies to work to make equality a top priority, it’s not something that will happen by itself. “[Women’s rights] shouldn’t be something that creates a reaction. It’s simply saying that I believe in the equality of men and women and that we still have an awful lot of work to do to get there. That’s like saying the sky is blue and the grass is green.” — Justin Trudeau, United Nations conference