QWhat are the top 3 to 5 tips you can offer male “bosses” for working with and influencing the careers of females they manage?

answered January 15th, 2014 by Dr.Nancy McInerney-Lacombe

First and foremost, don’t treat women differently from their male counterparts. I had a situation where my boss’s boss was very anxious about the visit of the Chair of the company to our London office. The Chair was very pro-women and this guy said to me –  if I stick to the normal rules of what level of personnel should attend his meetings “there won’t be a skirt in the room.” He then suggested he would lower the level for women but not for men. I said to him “If you think women are going to stand up from their desk and walk by their male colleagues to go to these artificially structured get-togethers, I think you are wrong.”  Now, if you do want to lower the level attending – do it for both men and women.


Secondly, give your female reports solid long term career counseling. I was very lucky to have received wonderfully wise counsel throughout my career by some very senior people. Not just what to do to get the next job but – stop and look at the big picture – what skills and strengths do you have and what more do you need and how do you make sure you get what you need – even if the conversation leads to – you won’t get what you need here if these are your aspirations.


Thirdly, don’t exclude her – give her the choice before it becomes embarrassing for all. While on a Board of Directors, after one board meeting all the guys were heading out to watch a game at a local sports dive. No one had mentioned this to me, so I really didn’t clue in until the Chair explained with embarrassment what was happening. He sheepishly said “you can come, if you like.” I laughed and said I’d rather have a root canal without anesthetic. Everyone laughed and they went off but I have to admit I stood in the board room for a few minutes by myself and wondered if the Chair would handle this better next time. I wasn’t hurt but I felt excluded.


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