Men Are Starting to Embrace the Whole 'Lean In' Thing

Illustration for article titled Men Are Starting to Embrace the Whole 'Lean In' Thing

Well, this is cool. According to an article in the New York Times, businessmen have begun to really change their attitudes about powerful women in the workplace thanks largely to Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In."

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As James Dominick, a 33-year-old who oversees around assets for a South Korean bank in New York, told the Times. “I don’t read a ton of business books, but I thought it was crazy that there aren’t more women in finance. I look around at my team of seven people, and one of them is a woman. That is not the right ratio. How do I fix that?”

He later added, "After reading the book, I now understand that women are promoted on achievements and men are promoted on promise, which is something from a behavioral bias standpoint just worth knowing."

Dominick was encouraged to read "Lean In" by his friend Brent Grinna (the founder of technology company EverTrue) who, after reading the book, hired a woman — Elisabeth Carpenter — as Chief Operating Officer . As he told the paper, "“I’m convinced by both Sheryl and the data of the benefits of having gender balance on a leadership team."

(The EverTrue team is still pretty far from balanced, but hiring Carpenter — along with a few other female employees — is certainly a good start.)

Dominick and Grinna are just two of a handful of men who are embracing Lean In circles and considering the best way to level the playing field of the business world. CEOs of corporations ranging from Cisco to PricewaterhouseCoopers to Red Ventures have all tried to take Sandberg's lesson to heart.

Sandberg herself says this was all apart of her mission. From the NYT:

Ms. Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, did not seem surprised at this development; indeed, she suggested it was part of her grand plan. “Early on, I was thinking of having one chapter just for men, but then I decided to have all the chapters speak to men,” Ms. Sandberg, 44, said, adding, “We have to tell men why equality is good for them, at any income level.”

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A lot of this might come off more as paying lip service than enacting real change, but it's encouraging to know that people — particularly men in business — are at least thinking about gender imbalances and the best way to correct them. Who knows? It might even be the first step towards a time when we can discuss women in business without having to consult men on how they feel about it.

Page by Page, Men Are Stepping Into the ‘Lean In’ Circle [NYT]

Image via Getty.

DISCUSSION

arischwartz
Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

Along the lines of bell hooks...

Let me say, first of all, that I see nothing intrinsically wrong with Sandberg's argument. I'm just a skeptic of the status quo itself, and therefore question any purveyor of the status quo.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am profoundly skeptical of whether or not the status quo for men is what women should necessarily "want." The fact is that the status quo in general is dehumanizing, isolating, and destructive to the well-being of both individuals and groups. I remain unconvinced that the solution is to bring in more women or people of non-majority. I'm often skeptical of whether putting more women in board rooms will make women or men or anyone happier or change anything. The quarterly profit cycle and focus on shareholder returns will continue to win over CSR barring any serious regulatory change in this and many other countries.

People often tell me, "but shareholder return is always the goal of a corporation!" This is not true: stakeholder benefit was the primary goal of Japanese corporations for decades (and arguably still is for most.) Changing the regulatory regime in the US would go much farther toward improving our lives than having women "leaning in."

I think, in a way, that my biggest criticism of Sandberg's argument is that it once again puts the onus of responsibility on women. Women have to do the work to improve things for women, "leaning in." Rather than creating a national paradigm of paternity leave and fatherly involvement, we are once again telling women, "you can have it all!" without really addressing the major structural, social, legal, and regulatory issues that perpetuate the status quo, hurting everyone. I say this, I admit, for self-interested reasons. I want institutional paternity leave
(and maternity leave, for Chrissake). I want my household duties to be viewed as important by my employer. I want work-life balance (I shudder at the shithead notion of work-life integration I hear of now.) I want these things because they benefit me. I want social recognition for being attentive as a husband and eventually as a parent. I want a more equitable society. It benefits me. Only an idiot would argue otherwise, frankly. It's as clear as day that men would benefit from a sea change in our society.

And so yeah, that's why I'm skeptical: because I don't like the status quo and I don't want it perpetuated.