Organizations working on raising awareness of inclusiveness and why it is essential for businesses to survive are well served by advocacy programming. This is very true as it relates to organizations that are working to increase gender diversity at the leadership levels. One of the most important differences between men and women at senior levels of organizations is the intensity of advocacy relationships.
Advocacy is what makes the “world go round” so to speak as we observe how individuals rise through their careers. Human beings are unconsciously driven to support the individuals that remind us of ourselves- those we can identify with -those who are traveling on a journey we feel we have taken- a journey we understand. In many organizations the influential members of leadership are still primarily men. In working with male leaders on this issue- they almost always agree that if they pay close attention – they are not providing the same amount of guidance and advocacy to women as they do to men- for many very solid reasons. These reasons all relate to the premise above – feeling they can make a difference in this person’s journey. One of the issues we know is contributing to the lack of advancement of women is the fact that women do not receive as much advocacy and career guidance as their male counterparts.
Organizations need to be a catalyst for these relationships- for the individuals but also for the health of the organization. Culture shift is very difficult and ambiguous. Facilitating advocacy is a powerful culture shifting strategy for organizations. As men and women work together on business focused goals everyone learns. The women certainly get increased access to career, organizational and market navigation insights as well as active advocacy of an influential member of leadership. In addition the men are learning about this individual’s journey in ways that can permanently break down unconscous bias and deeply held beliefs that the men may hold about women and their capabilities, aspirations and potential. This is the end game that creates an exponential ripple effect within the organization that cannot be gained in any other manner. Advocacy programming is a powerful culture shifting strategy.