Nance was asked by Yahoo! Finance’s Cameron Huddleston how men can be great mentors to women, even in the #MeToo era. Like many people, Nance finds herself navigating some difficult conversations with men—and women—who want the rules to be clearer. Consequently, some of her tips are:
- Accept that there are no clear rules that will apply to every person you meet. We are still figuring this out, and there’s no perfect plan to prevent claims against you. I know this seems unfair, especially for those of you who genuinely don’t want to harm women, and it probably is. Unfortunately, life is risky and unfair. You will make mistakes, but there are ways you can minimize your risk of career-ending consequences–a risk that is probably already pretty low, unless you are a sexual harasser.
- How you handle mistakes is important. Denying a clear wrong is one of the worst ways to handle it. There are too many ways to prove a wrong, and the consequences will usually be worse after a cover up than if you owned your mistake because you will no longer seem trustworthy on other issues. Likewise, minimizing someone’s upset makes you appear insensitive, self-absorbed, and unable to manage people. It’s far more effective to listen to concerns, learn what is driving them, and resolve them, where possible. The more you practice apologizing for a slip of the tongue, sharing how you will avoid that behavior again, and following through on your promise, the more likely you will be seen as a powerful leader who many will support. The more you actively look for ways to make women feel welcome and valuable for their unique contributions, the more you will learn about how similar you are.
- Focus on measurable goals. Your management role is always to deliver on the business’ goals, and supervising employees of all genders and gender identities is a vital part of this. If you can’t easily determine how to translate the business goals to individual workers’ goals and duties, you might be unintentionally letting unrelated beliefs and implicit biases influence your evaluation of an employee’s performance. Ask for help from your supervisor. When you can measure performance objectively, it will be easier to mentor your employees.
- Avoid behavior that looks too much like what you do outside of work. You don’t have to be an entirely different person at work. You can still have fun after hours and off the premises. But, when you’re on the clock, remember that you were hired to further the business’ goals. You’re not at work to get a date, be reminded that you’re still attractive, audition for a stand-up comedy act, or win the “coolest boss” award. So, don’t act like you are. The more you can maintain your focus, the better this will be for your career. You’ll probably avoid sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and hostile work environment claims, and you’ll show that you deserve advancement opportunities.
- Challenge yourself to understand why we have a #MeToo movement. Try to imagine going into a foreign land where most of the people are physically stronger than you and who haven’t had a lot of relationships with people from your homeland. Much of what they know, they’ve learned from the Internet, television, movies, and the occasional friend who visited your land for a few days once. They’ve developed implicit biases that they think are real, just as you had some preconceived notions about what they would be like. They think you’re not as smart; you think they’re potentially violent, especially if they don’t get what they want from you. What would you need to feel safer? How would you overcome your implicit biases—and theirs—so you can work together as equals? Are there ways you can create those experiences for the women in your workplace?
To read Cameron’s complete article, click here.
For more tips on avoiding a sexual harassment claim:
- Take the online course
- Read “Using Your Third Ear to Uncover Implicit Biases”
- Read “Why Is Sexual Harassment a Hot Topic?”
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney, mediator, and conflict resolution coach who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills. She helps managers and business owners have powerful conversations about tough topics, like gender and race. In addition to her legal education, she was trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been featured in a number of global publications.