Yes, there are only 4 things organizations need to do to advance women.

Men owe it to themselves, their companies, employees, shareholders . . . and their daughters to do a better job in advocating for women. – Jeffery Tobias Halter

After attending over 15 women’s leadership events in the last 90 days, I have synthesized everything I’ve seen and heard into the sentence above. Specifically, the actions that need to take place in organizations to advance women are:

  1. Listen
  2. Learn
  3. Lead
  4. Have the Will to Change

In Part One of this series, I urged men to genuinely listen to the very different experiences men and women are having in their organizations. The intent of these conversations is to determine root cause issues in your company and to allow leaders to have an epiphany on what is really going on in the workplace. This same activity should be done with millennials, ethnic minorities, LGBT and even old white guys like me. There are systemic issues in your company that are prohibiting growth, retention, and development of all employees, impeding engagement and affecting your company’s reputation in the marketplace.

Why do I pick on men and say men need to be actively involved? Because men are still in charge! Men still hold well over 85% of senior leadership roles in companies. It is incumbent on men to lead this change. The good news is some male leaders are championing this work. In the last 90 days, I have witnessed amazing men standing up and leading this conversation in their organizations. In industries as diverse as Retail, Telecom, Commercial Real Estate, and Manufacturing.

Learn

Each of these leaders has learned and demonstrated some common themes. The first thing to learn is to Articulate the Business Case to your team. This must be done at all functional levels of the organization. It is not enough for senior leaders to have a conceptual understanding. What is needed is a Locally Relevant Business Case that answers the question posed by middle management, “How does this connect to me and my work?” and more importantly, “What’s in this for me?”

Leaders today are answering these questions with facts and data. While the revenue piece will vary widely by industry, the war for talent cuts across the entire organization. Five compelling facts leaders are talking about:

  • 85% of new entries into the workforce are women and minorities. The representation of our workforce is changing rapidly.
  • Millennials are turning 35 and are your budding pipeline. By 2020 they will be the largest employee pool in the country.
  • Women are getting more than 60% of advanced degrees in this country. If are a knowledge-based company, you need to attract and retain women.
  • The best and brightest aren’t even applying to work for your company. The #1 major in business schools today is entrepreneurship.
  • 10,000 Boomers are retiring per day, and this trend will continue for the next 15+ years!

These macro-trends are creating a massive war for talent. Organizations are feeling the pain, and smart leaders are addressing it. The Locally Relevant Business Case combines your company’s revenue opportunity and the war for talent into a measurable action plan that can hold people accountable.

The second learning is to Generally Value the Individual. The days of militaristic command and control management are over. Managing people today requires an evolved leadership sophistication to meet and value each and every person individually.

This is how you maximize employee engagement and retention.

If you are a leader with one management style, there is a good chance 50% of your team is not being managed effectively. Today, leading and managing people requires an understanding of personality types, gender, sexual orientation, minority status, along with a sensitivity for the pressures of the family (maternity/paternity, children, aging parents). Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time we devoted a day (or even an hour) to developing leaders who think, act and behave differently than we do?” My guess is that your answer is “It’s been awhile” or “never”. In the past few weeks, I have been in 5 organizations which are making this investment. And all this ‘touchy-feely’ HR stuff is being driven by senior white male leaders who have figured out that the status quo just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The final learning demonstrated by these men is Leading from the Front. They are taking visible, vocal actions and holding people and their organizations responsible for change. Leading from the Front is the third thing organizations need to do to advance women and it will be explored in Part 3 of this series.

HuffPost logoThis piece originally appeared in the HuffPost.

Image credit: Bigstock – zurijeta

Jeffery Tobias Halter is the country’s leading male expert on advancing women and engaging men. He is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women’s leadership issues. Jeffery is a TEDx speaker, Huffington Post Blogger and the author of two books, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Menand Selling to Men, Selling to Women. Keep in touch @YWomen.