As a privileged white man, I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have had the support and sponsorship throughout my education and professional careers that has enabled me to perform at my best and be recognised for my best, without any significant barriers.
I was extremely lucky too to have the opportunity to be part of Lean In Ireland’s fireside chat event (sponsored by Core) with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of the global Lean In movement. In less than 6 years, this has gone from an aspirational idea to a global movement with over 41,000 networks across 170+ countries.
Being a working-from-home parent to 2 young kids and running my own Diversity & Inclusion advisory firm (MASF Consulting Ltd – www.masf.ie), I am never asked how I do it all. Yet, as Sheryl Sandberg said last night that is a common question posed to women with the implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumption that a choice needs to be made.
[NOTE: By the way, I do not do it all. I do my best to do my fair share of the myriad of tasks needed to safely and progressively raise a family and support my wife & friends. I would not have the success I have had without the amazing work that my wife also does and support she also gives.]
Ms. Sandberg stressed also the inhibiting underestimation that women can place on themselves and the systemic underestimation placed on them by others.
This should not be the case, and yet it often is. And men have a key role to play to eradicate this unfairness that manifests itself both inside and outside the workplace.
As a man, I want to live in a more equitable and successful society. Not just for my wife but for my son & my daughter. And for myself. I believe that all men will benefit when the barriers against women are lifted and to do this, we need to lean in also. Lean In is not about supporting women and not men; it is not about taking from men so as to give to women. This is not a zero-sum game. Lean In is a mindset and a movement that provides the environment and the platform for women to gain better support, deeper sponsorship and the eradication of the barriers (professional and societal) that currently exist.
As Sheryl Sandberg said last night ‘it would be a much better world if half the countries and companies were run by women, and half the homes were run by men’.