Real Men Support Women Who Lean In
Posted 06.10.14
Jonathan A. Segal

I have had people ask me:  why is working to eliminate gender bias such a passion for you as a man?  My response:  how could it not be?

On a personal level, I grew up in a family where my parents shared the care giving and the financial responsibilities.  My sister, brother and I were raised without stereotypic suggestions on what we could be or do. I saw how gender equality made my very strong family even stronger.

On a professional level, gender bias is more than a legal and moral wrong.  It is bad business.

While the numbers vary depending on the field, generally speaking, women account for at least half of the talent in the workforce. Employers who discriminate against women, consciously or unconsciously, do so at their economic peril.

Women do not need paternalistic rescuing.  Women need organizations to understand where there are explicit or implicit barriers to true equality and to eliminate them.

Where equal employment opportunity at all levels and in all areas is a reality and not just a slogan, it is not just women and the organization which benefit.  Men, too, benefit when we expand the range of socially-acceptable options by eradicating gender-based stereotypes.

I am not very popular with members of boys’ clubs, the invisible but often impenetrable group of (white) men with power.  Nothing could bother me less, because I am more likely to be successful and happy working through inclusive groups of diverse individuals.

Still, I look forward to the day when these clubs don’t exist so that women and men who don’t belong to these de facto fraternities have an equal chance to succeed—or to fail. No preferences—just an even playing field.

We should follow Sheryl Sandberg’s clarion call for more dialogue.  But the dialogue must produce positive changes or it will serve only to raise expectations unfairly and dangerously.

Enough writing.  We have work to do.

Join me in New York at the Lean In Dialogues to continue the conversation on June 18.

About Jonathan A. Segal
Jonathan A. Segal is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment Group. He is also the managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute. The Duane Morris Institute provides training for human resource professionals, in-house counsel, and other leaders at client sites and by way of webinar on myriad employment, leadership labor, benefits and immigration topics. Jonathan has served intermittently as a consultant to the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years, providing training on employment issues to federal judges around the country. Jonathan also has provided training on harassment on behalf of the EEOC as well as providing training on diversity to members of the United States intelligence agencies. Jonathan is also frequently a featured speaker at national, state and local human resource, business and legal conferences, including conferences sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Business and Industry. Jonathan’s practice focuses on maximizing compliance and minimizing legal risk. Jonathan’s particular areas of emphasis include: equal employment opportunity in general and gender equality in particular: social media; wage and hour; performance management; talent acquisition; harassment prevention and correction; and non-competes and other ways to protect your business. You can find him on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law .