Every Little Helps With Engaging Men!

When PWN Global introduced Engaging Men as a strategic pillar, only a few networks were already working on gender balanced leadership and women's leadership empowerment with involvement of men. 

Funda Sezgin, VP Engaging MenScroll forward a couple of years and we now see that many of our networks have introduced their own “engaging men” committees. If not a committee, they introduced activities that are involving men or asking men to become active advocates for gender balanced leadership.

PWN Global has been a pioneer for Engaging Men for the past five years and we strongly believe this has made a huge difference in our work.  So how come we faced up to the inevitable, that we need “men” to achieve balanced leadership?

The answer is easy: “Engaging men” brings quick, tangible results! Even by making the smallest of steps, you can see how the ripple effect created can help kickstart the change! With these small steps, it becomes possible to touch and change the career paths of women. “Engaging men” also brings a different perspective, and diversity of thought. Balanced leadership isn't and never should have been a 'women's problem' - it something that concerns society as a whole, and that includes men.

At a PWN Engaging Men workshop, around thirty male, C-level executives, shared their experiences with us. A couple of months after the workshop, the General Manager of one of the well-known multinationals in attendance wrote to us to express that he was very much impressed by the workshop because it had enabled him to consciously change his approach to decision-making during recruitment activities.

During the workshop, male executives were asked to consider whether “gender balance” should be a criterion in the selection process. If there was imbalance in their teams, they discussed the merits of considering hiring a female candidate over a male candidate with similar competencies.

Thanks to the open debate that ensued and the varying perspectives generated, the general manager of the multinational company hired two female managers in his team. He said that formerly, he wouldn’t have thought about gender balance as part of his hiring criterion,as the issue simply wasn't on his radar. His level of awareness after the workshop was much higher and it enabled him to make some conscious interventions to improve gender balance, and ultimately, the performance of his teams. 

Do you think that these two women managers are aware that a workshop on balanced leadership made an impact on their careers? We will probably never know the answer to that question.... However, we know that we touched their life in a way and supported them as unknown and invisible sisters.  

A tangible product that resulted from two of these workshops delivered by PWN Istanbul's Engaging Men Committee, was an Engaging Men Manifesto. While collecting signatures from the workshop participants, and other highly interested male executives, we discovered another “engaged men” approach. 

One of the executives interested in signing the manifesto was in transition to a regional role. During the handover process, he encouraged his successor, the new general manager to sign the manifesto and to consider appointing a woman as technical manager to achieve balanced leadership. Had the manifesto not been in place this conversation probably never would have taken place and they might not have even discussed this appointment. This is why it is so important to keep communicating about gender balanced leadership, using all the tools that we have such as the manifesto to keep the topic top of mind.

From my immediate experience, I made a three minute speech at a gender balanced leadership conference. I talked about how impressed I was by the male executives’ questions at the workshops that we had delivered in Istanbul. Two insightful and practical themes were recurring:

  • Making gender balance a criteria in the recruitment/selection process
  • Getting our Human Resources department to officially introduce documented processes to make gender balance a criteria in promotion, selection and hiring

After my speech, a female manager of a well-known multinational company introduced herself and expressed how practical it would be to implement the suggestions that I had shared.

It wouldn’t be that difficult to deliver KPIs at different levels of organizations and consider them as promotion and hiring criteria, would it? For this particular company, they were in their performance review period. She took the initiative to speak their Human Resources department and although the action was not taken by male executives, it was the perspective of male executives brought another that had created the idea to do this.  

We may not be able quantify the number of women's careers that our work had impacted on as we strive to achieve balanced leadership, however, we are aware that even little things that we do, share and talk, helps their careers to thrive. “Engaging men” with gender balanced leadership accelerates these results by bringing in a different perspective and, ultimately, the decision making power that many men still hold in the global corporate world.

Many women's empowerment networks are aware that it is not a “women’s issue” and we should overcome obstacles by as men and women, working together. 

Gender balanced leadership is not a “women only issue”. It is both men’s and women’s common challenge. What we need to do is to create more platforms to engage more and more men and give them a chance to speak up and talk about their aspirations and ideas to build gender balanced leadership. 

If you want to find out more about our Engaging Men programmes, please contact us


Author: Funda Sezgin, VP Engaging Men, PWN Global
Editor: Rebecca Fountain, Head of Marketing and Communications, PWN Global
Date: July 2018

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