Person holds paper showing gender equality symbol

What does “Man Up” for equality mean to you? Have you put thought into how to address equality in your business or are you sticking your head in the sand? Our industry is behind the times, but there certainly are companies out there making good progress in addressing equality issues. But a few random leaders are not enough. I would pose that is it time for a more strategic approach to equality in our workplaces.

This is not an issue that women alone need to address. Every company should implement a strategy to Man Up in the workplace. Both men and women in leadership should actively address equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity for promotions, equal professional development paths, and equal consideration of ideas.

Windshield time really enables me to dig into podcasts and audio books, which have inspired me to network with other industry female leaders. I joined the ISSA Hygieia network, increased face time with fabulous women leaders in my workplace and even reconnected with two senior leadership females from further back in my career. What a wealth of knowledge and insight all of these ladies offer!

I recently sent a quote off to my lady co-workers from the book “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen. It explores a lot of business practices/habits that women develop (or fail to) vs. their male counterparts. We overvalue perfection and expertise, we don’t say “no” enough, we apologize too much, we don’t take due credit, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and outrage on our faces, etc. The funny thing is, I inadvertently copied one of the senior leadership guys, too. Freudian slip? In hindsight, I reflected that is was likely a good move. We should share insight into female business challenges with the men we work with, especially those who are tasked with helping to direct our careers and growth. Again, it takes the whole team to address the needed change.

Here are a few practical, tactical suggestions. Men can also join the ISSA Hygieia network. Use this platform or something more informal to receive firsthand advice from a solid female industry leader. Seeking input from women outside your own company keeps the topic a bit safer. Ask your contacts to share what challenges they have encountered and what change they feel is needed.

Regardless of age, 25 or 65, we have the capacity to increase knowledge on this topic and, of course, many others. 

Women make great leaders and there are comments and ideas we are discounting because we simply didn’t hear them adequately. This phenomena is explained by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, as “Speaking While Being Female.” You can learn more about this on the HBR IdeaCast (podcast). You can also read the Helgesen book, which sites studies where this is consistently reinforced. Too often women are just not heard until/unless a male counterpart seconds or reiterates the idea.

Bottom line, we all have more to learn and put into practice in the workplace.

Tina Saunders, I.C.E., MBA, ACT, is Director of Marketing & eCommerce at Nichols and owner of SonicTrain, LLC, creators of The Arena gamification platform. You may contact her at 419-297-0822 or