In the fight for workplace gender equality, one group in particular has been identified in recent months as crucial to helping women advance: men.
That’s the growing focus of men at United Technologies Corporation, where male allyship is more than a buzzword — it’s a real priority. And it’s a priority that Matthew Bromberg, president of UTC’s Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, was able to speak to in detail as part of the Simmons Leadership Conference’s appropriately titled “Men Who Get It” panel earlier this month.
“Being an ally means you’ve made a conscious effort to involve all employees in your company’s decision-making process by ensuring that everyone’s thoughts, viewpoints and opinions are heard and respected,” Bromberg told Fairygodboss in advance of the panel, adding that UTC “firmly believes that inclusion powers innovation.”
Prior to joining UTC — which Fairygodboss users rank as a top-rated company for women — 25 years ago, Bromberg got his start in a work environment that was fairly devoid of inclusion: Navy submarines.
“When I was in the Navy, women were not allowed on submarines,” he explained, referring to a policy that changed in 2010. “Today, women are serving on submarines of all types, on all missions. They are leading teams of men and women… It makes me wonder what opportunities were lost over the past 50 years because we lacked true diversity and true parity on the boats.”
Thankfully, his work environment today is one that places a true premium on the value of diversity. Last year UTC joined the Paradigm for Parity coalition to pledge that women will fill 30% of its leadership roles by 2020 — then took things a step further by announcing it now aims to have a full 50% of women in these roles by 2030. As a UTC leader, Bromberg is not only committed to reaching this goal on a company-wide level; he’s also determined to promote diversity and inclusion in his day-to-day interactions, something he describes as a two-fold endeavor.
“It means leveraging my position as a business leader to advocate for female talent. It means speaking up for women in the organization with potential and who deserve development opportunities — and then providing them with those opportunities wherever and whenever I can,” he explained. “While that can and does happen through formal sponsorship programs, it should happen organically in our day-to-day discussions.”
Describing himself as a “very active husband and father,” Bromberg added that it’s not only women who benefit when diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of a company’s goals.
“Ultimately, making assumptions about any person’s capabilities, aspirations or work-style preferences based on gender just serves to perpetuate limitations we place on each other,” he explained. “The more we encourage and celebrate men engaging fully in domestic responsibilities like child and elderly care, the more we free men up to achieve the level of balance they want and deserve, as well as allowing their partners to do the same.”
Clearly, the perks to allyship are plentiful. But where should men start? Bromberg had a few pointers there, as well.
1. Call out behavior that doesn’t cut it.
“We should actively call out behavior that isn’t inclusive,” he said. “During a meeting, when a woman — or anyone, for that matter — is struggling to be heard, we should pause the conversation to ask for their input.”
2. Recruit inclusively.
“We should insist that our recruiting teams that present candidates for an open role include a high percentage of resumes representing top female talent,” he said.
3. Put in facetime where it counts.
“We should be visible by attending women’s leadership events and Employee Resource Group (ERG) meetings by joining an ERG board,” Bromberg said, adding that allies can also “champion a group if you’re in a senior leadership position.”
4. Bring other men on board.
Bromberg explained that allies should be active, not passive, in their example setting, saying, “We should invite fellow male employees to attend these meetings and events with us.”
5. Do your homework.
“Maybe most importantly,” he said, “we need to do our homework by asking women, and those from all underrepresented groups, about their beliefs and experiences.”
Part of that, Bromberg added, starts with listening: “Practice active listening techniques to understand what they’re saying, not just as a cue to respond.”