When I first got started, I created a women’s leadership program.
I got some clients and my business started to take off. I also got some speaking engagements. In one case, I was the moderator of a panel discussion. On this panel, was Dr. Alyson Byrne — she is a professor that studies gender and leadership. Her work has even been published in Harvard Business Review.
Her role on this panel: To explain what the evidence says about the gender gap in the workplace. Something interesting happened during this panel discussion as Dr. Byrne was talking about the latest evidence.
I realized that I had it all wrong, my leadership coaching program focused 100% on women wasn’t actually going to change anything, and the numbers proved it. The truth, which I learned on that day is: if we truly want to create equality in the workplace we need to change workplace culture.
That means that I needed to step up and start educating my clients on how to to get men on board. I needed to show my clients how to leverage their influence to get ahead, how to embrace sponsorship and to use their influence to change workplace culture.
And, it worked! My clients found sponsors, they got promoted and they got men involved in the conversation in their organizations.
Sponsorship also worked for me. When I started engaging senior male leaders, things happened faster, I got bigger corporate clients, and they connected me with other potential clients. Embracing the politics instead of avoiding them was a game changer for me.