I have had a rocky and enlightening journey as a male facilitator for a programme meant to groom women leaders. Let me explain why.
– Assumptions that a women programme needs to be facilitated by a woman. The leaders arranging the programmes and the participants have the mindset that only another women talking about her trials and tribulations will be inspiring and beneficial
– Beliefs: How can a man understand a woman’s point of view given challenges are often about men?
– Unconscious Bias: How can women really open up to a man in an honest manner?
With the above as baggage it took me some time to make participants understand that in the same way that just women want men to understand their viewpoint, the reverse is equally true. The decision of our company to have a male facilitator is by design, to ensure that a wholistic balance is maintained, resulting in practical learning.
A large number of gender inclusion exercises in organisations are only partially successful because often the messaging is men versus women. This makes both sexes wary of the other and interestingly instead of feeling understood, often the opposite happens. In my programmes I make sure that the male point of view is discussed in the same neutral manner as the woman’s, and in my understanding this has built positive belief and confidence in women to interact and deal with men at work.
Some interesting revelations that I have had as a male facilitator:
– Explaining to women that men are not against women since most men have working wives and understand the challenges of dual responsibility. Women sometimes find it difficultto digest and the reasons could be that men often use their masculine energy traits of completion and professional approach and expect women colleagues to do the same. Women are different and when men are told that their women colleagues have certain pain areas, they are surprised as to why the women did not say so. This is not rocket science. The feminine energy is more sensitive to unsaid messages of others and expects her male counterparts to reciprocate in the same way. Adding to this is fear to table issues and the inability to separate emotions from facts.
I find that after a programme where these myths and limiting perceptions are cleared, women are able to handle such situations with ease and more confidence.
My advice to young women professionals is treat male colleagues like colleagues who are different. Befriend them for two reasons. Firstly, they are still the majority in organisations and secondly they are 50% of the population. If you try and understand them from an unbiased foundation, you will enjoy their different perspectives.
About Himanshu Shekhar
Facilitator and Coach, Tatvã Leadership
Himanshu Shekhar graduated from Delhi University from the commerce stream. During his fifteen years of work experience he worked in the capacity of Sales Manager and Regional Training Manager in the Insurance and IT sectors. A Facilitator and Coach, Himanshu has over eight years of corporate training experience in the areas of Leadership, Personal Effectiveness, Management Development, Creativity and Lateral thinking, Communication, Coaching, Sales and Distribution Training and Client Management. As an Associate Consultant with Tatvã Leadership, he brings a lot of value to participants through his real life connections and stories. Being a people’s person, facilitating comes naturally to him.
Email: [email protected]