We have been blessed to work for some time now with a Fortune 100 company that is fully committed to achieving gender partnership. One of their key strategies for reaching that goal is to open the eyes and minds of male leaders to recognize the value that women leaders bring to bottom line.

This corporation brought in IWL to provide formal training for male P&L executives at the senior vice president and vice president level so they would gain insights into “gendered” thinking, and then initiate new ways to promote full gender partnership at their company.

The results have been phenomenal!  Sixty-five top executives have been through our Partners Leading Change program and undertaken projects that that contribute to transforming their organization’s culture. I want to share their own words with you on how the program affected them – their hearts, their minds, and their actions. As you read these quotes, keep reminding yourself that they are coming from the top male executives in one of America’s biggest, most successful companies.

Engaging men to advance women means motivating men with things that matter to them: their personal goals, financial benefit, hard facts, the code of fair play and the innate male imperative to take action, solve problems and lead others.

“As a male, and having grown up in an all-male household, I assumed that everyone’s experience was just like mine, where the most talented person was always selected for a promotion or next assignment.  One of the things that sticks with me is that men are conditioned to take risks, where women are not.  This honestly blew me away.”

“There’s a greater level of awareness and much more openness to what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re talking about moving women up — it’s spoken of at the forefront of meetings. I’ve seen a pretty substantial change in strategizing on getting women candidates to have greater influence or a seat at the table.”

One senior vice president realized that he had made an assumption that a high potential woman who worked for him would not want to relocate, since she was a new mother.  After participating in the program, he had a conversation with her – and she jumped at the opportunity!  His take-away:  “You must ask the individual whether she wants the job, not decide for her.  And if she cannot take the position now, ask her next year, because situations always change.”

“I have been more deliberative when I recruit and conduct talent reviews to ensure that we are not unknowingly missing the best talent. I take this beyond simply checking a box to have a diverse slate. I push our teams and recruiters to identify highly talented females and minorities when looking for roles. In the end we hire the best qualified, however we do so by exercising patience and deliberately recruiting top diverse talent.”

At the same time as the men were taking Partners Leading Change, mid-management women were taking our Women Leading Change program. As a result of these and other strategies in their initiative:

  • The number of female promotions jumped 22 percent in one fiscal year.
  • The number of C-suite/executive level women has doubled.
  • The number of female directors, who will transition into VP and senior VP roles and become the core leadership of the organization, has increased by 40% percent.

And last but not least – in fact, it’s probably my favorite result: There is a waiting list of men who want to participate in the program.