IWD 2023: Women, don’t forget to bring men on the journey
Equal opportunities aren’t enough, the IWD 2023 campaign states: as people start from
different places, true
inclusion and belonging require equitable action.
- Equality means everyone gets the same, regardless of whether it is right for them.
- Equity means everyone getting what they need, considering all barriers and circumstances.
As palliative care physician Naheed Dosani tweeted in 2014 (in a quote often since turned
into a social media
meme): “Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”
Becoming the cobbler
This was a move that made us into the cobbler: we want everyone to have a shoe that fits, not
Talented men and talented women both thrive in organisations that provide equal
At the board level, yes – but also in leadership, in management and even at the lowest rung
of the organisation,
for the newest intern.
[Find out more about Aurora50’s AIM accelerator for internal
management and Table Talks, for whole-company diversity
Inclusive organisations need to attract, retain and promote new staff to create
performance-led businesses they wish to become.
We recommend that men who want to champion women ask questions of them, rather than ever
Inclusive meetings and hiring
Is someone not raising their hand for a promotion because they don’t feel ready or because
they have a barrier,
like childcare, or even feeling imposter syndrome?
We want to see that meetings are run inclusively, and that everyone is encouraged to speak
and be heard.
That the hiring process is conducted inclusively and without bias.
Introducing women to your network
We would love to see men sponsoring aspiring and talented women, and introducing them to
their male network.
We have seen – and helped – many women take on board roles simply by gaining access to
[Find out more about Aurora50’s board accelerators,
Pathway20 for board directors looking to expand their
portfolio, and Gateway, for senior women looking for their first
We hope that men continue to educate themselves and others, to stop bias and create a
Women thinking inclusively
But women need to think inclusively too.
That list is wider than you would first think, as it should also contain family (parent,
future recruits and even suppliers.
Powerful people do not need to be in powerful roles; it is what they can do for you that
makes them powerful.
Finding a career sponsor
A colleague may have a great contact for you, or someone junior may step into an amazing next
Once a woman has listed her stakeholders, she should look for career sponsors.
A sponsor is not just an advisor or a mentor. It is someone who can lobby for you, who has a
great contacts list
and who can give you career-changing feedback.
Someone who will open the door for you.
Why sponsors love to sponsor
If that feels intimidating, remember that it’s not a one-way street: a sponsor wants to
sponsor a rising talent.
Having a ‘star’ under their wing furthers their own career or helps their company.
Ideally a sponsor should be two levels higher in a large organisation, or the founder or
director of a small
With a list of candidates, it’s time for women to network and contact would-be sponsors with
a very specific
‘ask’ of them – perhaps a monthly coffee, perhaps a nomination or a contact.
This is how women can ensure they are asking men to become their allies.
With their privilege and power, senior male leaders are uniquely positioned to drive cultural