There's no doubt that the #MeToo movement has been a catalyst for positive cultural change, but Sheryl Sandberg points out that it has also sparked a sexual harassment backlash. In a recent Lean In study, her team found that "twice as many male managers now feel uncomfortable working alone with a woman," and are hesitant to participate in activities like mentoring, working one-on-one, or socializing.
"This is a step in the wrong direction," Sandberg announced on the Lean In website. "Now, more than ever, we need men working with—and mentoring—women. When more women lead, workplaces are stronger and safer for everyone."
To combat the backlash, Sandberg and the Lean In team have launched #MentorHer, a campaign to encourage healthy, respectful, and constructive mentorship, regardless of gender. CEOs, managers, and even celebrities have already expressed support via social media. Kate Bosworth said of her husband and mentor, "He supports me in everything that I do and he's inherently interested in female stories. He's not afraid to lift me up and he's not intimidated by my strength. Incredible things can happen when we all work together."
So what can you do to support #MentorHer? Here are three common workplace issues and how Sandberg wants you to combat them.
When you're discussing team promotions…
Studies suggest women are less likely to have a sponsor or mentor who advocates on their behalf. "Put women's names forward for stretch assignments and promotions and introduce them to the influential people in your network—these personal connections can propel careers," she urges.
When you're giving feedback…
Women are more likely to receive advice based on their personal style, rather than their skills. "Give women specific input on the skills they need to build and tie it to business outcomes," she says. For example, you need to deepen your understanding of X to develop the skills required in a management role.
When you're organizing an after-hours activity…
Lean In found that women are often left out of social activities and business trips, which means they have fewer opportunities to build important relationships. "If you're uncomfortable going to dinner with female colleagues, meet everyone for breakfast—and encourage other men to do the same."
Has the way you manage your team changed after the #MeToo movement?