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But What about the Men?


By Cynthia O'Malley

Our industry will never achieve the benefits of gender equality with only one gender putting forth the effort.

Numerous studies have shown the bottom-line benefits of gender-balanced organizations. Those benefits include:

  • A balanced perspective for business governance;
  • The ability to understand and respond to the needs of all potential clients;
© / Opla

From better talent to broader perspective, the bottom-line benefits of a gender-balanced company are well documented.

  • Diversifying ideas for strategic planning to stimulate sustainable growth; and
  • Attracting the most talented candidates to companies from 100 percent of the workforce pool.

So what should men, particularly CEOs, be doing to reap the benefits of gender equality?

Balance the Board

Actively soliciting male and female representation on any board or panel on which you sit is a start.

To obtain a balanced perspective, you need a balance of genders among those participating. Insist on a balance of representation as a condition of your participation.

Stick to One Standard

Don’t promote double standards. Consider the feedback you provide to staff or in discussion with colleagues.

Women receive far more critical feedback than men, and that feedback is consistently related to their personalities, rather than their performance.

© / HultonArchive

Workplace evaluations of women are frequently tied to their personalities, not their performance.

Learn to identify and challenge opinions and inaccuracies regarding disparities in performance appraisals, and beware of recommendations that coincide with gender differences.

Don’t tolerate (much less, engage in) behavior that is gender biased and promotes negative assertions and stereotypes.

Catch Up the Playing Field

Preferentially mentor qualified women candidates in your organization until there is a balance of female and male genders in executive positions and governance roles.

There is no excuse for not identifying the potential of female candidates and actively supporting and recognizing their contributions as necessary for the organization's success.

Such recognition (including promotions, titles and salaries) should be gender-neutral and consistent with the positive impact on the company.

Prioritize Parenting Responsibilities

Provide paid parental leave, and use it. Men should assume equal responsibility for balancing work and family life. Provide paid parental leave that is necessary to equally support sharing of responsibilities.

© / claudiobaba

CEOs should work to offer and promote work-life balance and shared household responsibilities among all employees.

Instead of pressuring women to figure out how to navigate workplace obstacles related to parenting, why don’t we switch the perspective and ask men to do the same?

Working fathers spend an average of seven hours a week on responsible parenting, while working mothers average 14 hours a week on those responsibilities.

Prioritize Life Responsibilities

Any couple living together should share household responsibilities. The idea that women are better at these is outdated and ridiculous. Men don’t need to be "trained" by women. They need to step up and assume more responsibilities at home.

The Glass Cliff

There is one situation in which women are actually preferentially selected to CEO and governance positions. When a company is in crisis, women executives are often chosen to lead it out of trouble.

Why? The reason cited in one recent study is based on stereotyping of male traits, such as competitiveness and inability to compromise, which are considered ineffective when a company is experiencing financial crisis.

© / michaeljung
Perceived as less ego-driven, less competitive and better able to compromise, women are often called in to lead organizations in times of crisis.

However, these scenarios are often the result of impossible situations where it’s virtually impossible for anyone to succeed. When women are promoted to lead in situations where the deck is stacked against them, they know that failure is not an option.

This “do or die” situation is now known as the “glass cliff.”

That means that women in today’s corporate world not only have to find the means to break through the still-very-intact “glass ceiling,” but they then must teeter on the edge of a “glass cliff” long enough for their efforts to pay off.

And do so at a rate of 78 cents for ever dollar earned by their male counterparts.

So, why aren’t more CEOs advocating for gender equality at their organizations?




Cynthia O'Malley

Cindy O’Malley is the manager of consulting and laboratory services at KTA-Tator Inc. and Co-Chair of SSPC’s Women in Coatings Program. During her 19 years with KTA, Cindy has been active in several industry organizations. She is an SSPC Certified Protective Coatings Specialist, a member of ASTM International, and the current president of the Pittsburgh Society for Coatings Technology (PSCT). Her industry honors include SSPC’s 2013 Presidents’ Lecture Series Award. Contact Cindy.



Tagged categories: Cynthia L. O'Malley; KTA-Tator; Program/Project Management; Protective Coating Specialist (PCS); SSPC; Business management; Business matters; North America; Personnel

Comment from paul champagne, (12/8/2014, 12:01 PM)

"Preferentially mentor qualified women candidates in your organization until there is a balance of female and male genders in executive positions and governance roles" As you attempt to mentor women into the roles of governance keep in mind the small percentage of women in the hands on rank and file positions in the industry. This adequately explains their absence in the leadership roles in the industry. This type of physical work does not attract large percentages of women. As that number increases then should the number of leadership roles proportionately..

Comment from shane hirvi, (12/8/2014, 4:01 PM)

I think that you miss the point Mr. Champagne. Your comments in regard to the percentages of women in the "hands on rank and file positions in the industry" and how you seem to believe that those numbers should translate into how leadership positions are staffed seems to be exactly the kind of remark that the author is challenging us, as men, to overcome. How long ago were the same things said about people of color working in leadership positions in our industry? The author is saying to give qualified women a chance because they can not only equally discharge their responsibilities but appeal to a larger more qualified worker pool based on your organizations perceived gender equality as a consequence. Sure there is a certain segment of women that are not attracted to this type of work, just as there are large segments of men that are equally not attracted to this type of work. Often times, in our industry, women are actively dissuaded from seeking employment as the rank and file painters, blasters or laborers as it might get them dirty or it is too physically demanding a world for them to succeed in. If a person believes that women are too concerned about their personal cleanliness or they believe that holding a paint brush is too physically demanding a challenge to work in this industry then they are sexist and do not have my respect. Women are capable of performing the physical labor and as well filling leadership positions without regard to what percentage they currently comprise our industry's workforce. How many women do you know that can work longer, more efficiently and provide better quality than that punk kid who is sitting around texting on his phone all day--I know many, do you? The author is challenging men to not accept the same comments that you make as an excuse to not to hire women for positions that they are indeed qualified for. Instead of hiring that punk kid who spent his entire check at the bar--the one you aren't even sure when or if he will stagger into work--hire a qualified single mom who will do great work because she has a sense of responsibility which that punk kid will never understand. Do you know many male engineers, project managers, superintendents, presidents, vice presidents, safety professionals, inspectors, consultants, chemists who had to dig a ditch to get their job--why in the heck does a woman have to dig that ditch to have a position of leadership? bring on the women in this industry...

Comment from Dwight Weldon, (12/9/2014, 9:08 AM)

I have hired, trained, and mentored several women in the coatings industry, and believe a woman can do anything a man can do, except for perhaps in lifting heavy objects. There is no justification to not hire and promote women based on their gender, and there is also no excuse to pay them less than you would a man. However, I disagree strongly with the author when she says to "preferentially mentor qualified women candidates .. until there is a balance of female and male genders in executive positions.." I hired and mentored women not because they were women, but because I thought they were the best person for the job. It strikes me as unethical to "preferentially" do anything based on gender. You should choose a person to mentor or promote based on their qualifications, current job performance, and perceived potential - not because of their gender. To do otherwise would be discriminatory and short sighted.

Comment from jim dolan, (12/9/2014, 1:04 PM)

Paul Champagne, shame on you for correctly identifying the problem, you sexist pig! I would also think we should have a mentoring program for "punk kids". Don't they deserve it. What might do just as well is a mentoring program for "people"!!! Haven't you done enough to separate the colors, races, and genders? Have you closed your eyes and brains to the damage this has caused. Your "well intentioned" meddling has cause more than enough trouble. I know, you don't agree, but looked a our country now, after all the programs, and money spent.

Comment from shane hirvi, (12/9/2014, 1:42 PM)

Mr. Dolan I have a mentoring program for punk kids--just say the word and I'll sign you up

Comment from Karen Fischer, (12/10/2014, 10:33 AM)

Let's not descend into the depths of finger pointing fellas! I've worked in the construction industry for 30 years and while I've seen my share of so-called, gender equality issues, I, as a woman, first and foremost, would like to be hired based upon my knowledge and experience, NOT preferentially because of my gender. In the 80's, that is how many women got their jobs (had to meet a quota) and while some women played the gender card, many others realized that getting a job based solely on ones gender didn't make for a pleasant work environment and was LESS likely to result in many avenues of advancement. I took an active role early on to learn all I could. I was mentored just like any GUY would have been once people in higher places realized I wasn't there just to fill a quota but wanted to be there to advance. Personally, I feel affirmative action (forcing quotas onto a job or employer) makes them hire people not even remotely qualified. And why should people who are hired this way make an effort to learn, advance or make oneself more marketable when all they have to do is threaten a discrimination suit? I never expected to be hired or kept on a job unless I could do it, or unless I was willing to make the effort to learn it. I detest any effort to "preferentially" hire or promote, because this is just a soft and fuzzy way of hiring or promoting based upon gender (or any other perceived minority status) which is, in itself, discriminatory. The BEST QUALIFIED person or the one with the most potential should be sought. People should be taking personal responsibility to learn their trade and make themselves marketable, not expect someone in a high place to seek them out and train them up to the level everyone else is ALREADY at in the company.

Comment from jim dolan, (12/18/2014, 12:14 PM)

Karen Fischer, well said. My earlier point was; we have enough divisive programs, we need more programs to help "people", irregardless of gender, race, or economic status. These issues are best addressed in a classroom while mentoring people with all present. Different attitudes and bias's can be discussed in a learning environment with all participating. Having mentoring programs for each class of "victims" further separates us as working adults. I'm not saying don't mentor, just be all inclusive. Having a separate program for white males, whites females, black males, black females, etc., does nothing to solve the problems each class of people face. Segregation is not the answer. Ask any prison warden, it creates animosity. NOW, to respond to Shane's last intelligent comment; if you allow your "punk kids" to text on the job site, I would like to suggest that it might be you who needs some supervision mentoring!

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