Throughout my career, men have helped me every step of the way. Sometimes it was when I asked for help. Sometimes they saw I needed help even before I did, and they were there.
So you might think this is December-is-full-of-good-cheer-post — you know, me thanking men for all they've done for me at work. But no. It's me asking for even more. It's my wish list for what else men could be doing.
This is not grand stuff. Okay. I mean, women are doing better in school than men, outearning men, and look, now even Time magazine says women don't need marriage as much as men do. So it's not like women are in trouble. But still, men could do some stuff to make life better for women at work.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy flowers.
Women are happier when there are flowers in the room. Don't send red roses, because that means I love you. And don't send pink roses, because that means I wish I could sleep with you and then send red roses. Send a fun bouquet. If you think this is not what goes on in the upper echelons of the workplace, then read my post about Mark Benioff sending me flowers. It was great. We both got what we wanted, which is what the workplace is really about.
2. Take leave when you have a child.
Companies that have paternity leave policies rarely have to pay for them because men don’t use paternity leave. Maybe it's because taking leave kills your career. We all know that. We also know that the arrival of children is the genesis of salary disparity between men and women. But it is still essential for women to take leave. (Confession: I did not take time off and I lost my mind.) If men took leave, they would effectively change how the workplace deals with taking leave. If everyone took leave when they had a kid it would be too much trouble to penalize people. It's sort of like job hopping. When the whole generation does it, no one is penalized. And, here's a great little piece of research for you last few doubters: Taking maternity leave is better for your baby.)
3. Don't look at porn at work.
Don't tell me you don't do it, okay? Porn sites get the majority of their traffic during the workday. The opportunity here is that men do a better job of working with women if the men don’t look at porn during the day. So, if you want to be a non-collaborative grouch to the women around you, you should do your porn at night, when you're home with your significant other. She can take you to task on it more effectively than your co-workers.
4. Show your forearms.
If you are going to insist on making the workplace sexual, at least do it in a way that appeals to women. Women like to look at mens’ forearms. That's right. In the same way that men like to look at womens' cleavage. It must be from the days when women were looking to mate with a guy who was strong enough to kill a lion. Or something.
5. Encourage women to break rules.
Women follow rules better than men do, so the women do better in school. But, there is no correlation between doing well in school and doing well in adult life. And there might be a reverse correlation, because school is about doing what you're told, but strong performers in business make their own rules.
Maybe this is why most big law firms have no women in their top 10 rainmakers. This is because it's an ill-defined, outside-the-rules-of-what-you-learn-in-law-school kind of job. But these are the people who make the money and have the flexibility to have a lifestyle they want outside of work—one not so hours-bound.
So for women to really get the kind of workplace they want — flexible, responsive, and engaging, the women are going to need to break some rules. And the men can help by encouraging women to do that.