By now, you’ve probably heard of and perhaps read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. In her book as in countless articles, women are advised to do this or do that to close the various gender inequalities in the workplace—in promotions (particularly to executive and board positions), in pay, and in treatment.
There is no short supply of advice for women to close the various gender gaps, but what about advice for men? For organizations themselves? That women are overwhelmingly the ones responsible for fixing the inequalities that disadvantage them is itself an inequality.
Organizations and the men in them need to take more responsibility for changing the obstacles only women face in the workplace, especially when they themselves are the obstacles. I’ve written before about the McKinsey & Company report on how men and companies perpetuate gender inequalities even with programs in place to address them. Working on changing the culture and one’s mindset is an important step more men, particularly those in leadership, need to take.
In other words, it’s high time women expect their male colleagues and their organizations to do some leaning in toward them. The alternative? What more and more women, particularly those 40+, are doing every day—lean out.
Start your own business, aligned with your values and designed to fulfill your own definition of success, whether that be building a legacy, having time to pursue multiple interests and strengthen relationships, making the money you need to live the life you want while making a difference in the world—or all of the above and more.
Not only do we have the power to create the workplace we want to work in, we have an opportunity to do so in ways that provide a model to the world of the change we want to see in mainstream corporate America, academia, and government.
Women have already begun this modeling, demonstrating a faster rate of growth in their businesses than men as well as showing that having women on boards leads to higher profits.
Ideally, we need more of both—men leaning in and women leaning out. The business world is changing. We can shape the direction of that change by collaborating and by creating the change we want to see.