International Women’s Day is all about celebrating women’s achievements and highlighting the strong figures that are pushing the gender diversity agenda in their organisations. In that spirit, throughout the month of March, we will be profiling several male diversity champions. 

In this piece, we discuss the role of men in promoting gender balance and leadership styles with Andrew Stotter-Brooks, Vice President for Learning & Development Group at Etihad Aviation Group.

Men hold 94% of CEO positions in F500; we cannot progress the gender balance conversation without having more men at the table. In your opinion, what are some actions men can take to be better allies?

In my experience, seeking to understand and taking counsel from diverse perspectives is vital. I strive to get out of the way and empower my teams, both men and women. But this is often harder than it appears. People will always bring past experiences with them and this distorts the way they see the world and their position in it. 

I also see a simple truth: when they are given an excuse, individuals stop pushing instead of constantly looking for solutions. Humans only control one thing: their thoughts. How they think has a direct impact on their abilities. We should always seek to understand the views of the people we lead and influence.  

All communication is S – R – O: the dynamic between Sender and Receiver directly impacts the Outcome. When men act using their preferred style (Big S), they often miss the fine details that drive outcomes. They fail to understand that they are measured by outcomes. Placing greater emphasis on the Receiver dramatically improves the Outcome. This is an important lesson that many individuals fail to grasp. My advice is: keep an open mind and listen more to the receiver – ‘R’ drive outcomes, not Senders. At the end of the day, it’s about outcomes, what you deliver/achieve. 

Why is increasing women’s participation at work important to you and your business? 

To us, it’s quite simple: 50% of our customers are female, and more than half of my internal customers are female. The customer is at the heart of everything we do. 

Who is a woman whose work or leadership inspires you? Why? 

Rebecca Jobo – Head of Dubai Mall would be my nomination; she is simply incredible. Rebecca is a walking example of the SRO model. She introduced me to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which I think is the seminal text in this area. ‘Experiences’ are critical, too often I see female colleagues overcompensating and trying to behave like men. Men need to embrace the unique skills that women bring to business: their intuition, their EQ, their perspective and their experiences. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution – but is there one policy, measure or initiative that you believe can make a real difference to promote gender equality at the workplace? 

Helping everyone understand what’s expected and allowing our people to make informed choices about their future growth is key. I never want to tell people they’re “not ready”. Our vision is to allow our employees to make the right choices about their needs and what they need to do to be successful.

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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.