Sheryl Sandberg launches #MentorHer campaign

Sheryl Sandberg and LeanIn.Org aim to promote gender equality with the new campaign.

LeanIn.Org, the non-profit organisation founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in 2013, has launched a new campaign calling on men to mentor women.

The #MentorHer campaign seeks to bridge the gender gap in the workplace, and has been backed by leaders from many of the world’s biggest companies, including Bob Iger (Disney), James Quincey (Coca-Cola), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).

A recent survey by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey shows that almost half of male managers are now uncomfortable participating in common work activities with women, including working alone and mentoring.

But as Sandberg points out, such behaviour is counterproductive if the overall goal is gender equality n the office.

"The last thing women need right now is even more isolation. Men vastly outnumber us as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price. Men who want to be on the right side of this issue shouldn't avoid women. They should mentor them," she said.

The LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey also showed that since the media reports of sexual harassment, male managers are twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. Additionally, senior men are three and a half times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior woman than with a junior man – and five times more hesitant to travel for work with a junior woman.  

To combat this, it is suggested that male mentors introduce women to influential people in their network and make sure that the women they work with get equal access – for example, if men are uncomfortable going to dinner with female colleagues, they should meet everyone for breakfast.

"We're encouraged to see so many male business leaders publicly support #MentorHer," said Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org.

"If we want our workplaces to be safer and more respectful to women, men have to be part of the solution," she added.

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