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commit to
mentor women

Not harassing women is not enough.

Now more than ever, we need men to support women–not overlook or avoid them. When women have the same opportunities to succeed and lead as men, it makes the workplace safer and fairer for everyone.

The problem is we’re moving in the wrong direction.

For the last two years, LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey have partnered to understand better what men and women are experiencing in the workplace in the #MeToo era in the US and UK.

60% of managers who are men in the US and 40% of managers who are men in the UK are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.1

Senior-level men are now far more hesitant to spend time with junior women than junior men across a range of basic work activities such as 1-on-1 meetings, travel, and work dinners.2

We need to actively support women at work, including by mentoring and sponsoring them. Men—who are the majority of managers and senior leaders—can help make this happen.

Getting This Right Matters

Mentorship is critical

Mentorship is critical to the success of women across industries. We all benefit when a colleague shows us the ropes and sponsors us for new opportunities—particularly when they’re more senior, as men often are.3 This type of support can be especially impactful for women of color, who are less likely to receive career guidance from managers and senior leaders.4

People with mentors are more likely to get promoted.5

Women get less support

Women get less of the mentorship and sponsorship that opens doors.6 Whether this is driven by sexism or because men (perhaps unconsciously) gravitate toward helping other men, the result is that women miss out.7 Making matters worse, the number of men who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled since the recent media coverage on sexual harassment.8

Women are 24% less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders.9

And 62% of women of color say the lack of an influential mentor holds them back.10

What happens if men don’t take action

Women are already underrepresented in most organizations, especially at senior levels.11 If fewer men mentor women, fewer women will rise to leadership. As long as this imbalance of power remains, women and other marginalized groups are at greater risk of being overlooked, undermined, and harassed.12


Sexual harassment is twice as common in male-dominated organizations as it is in female-dominated organizations.13

What happens if men step up

If more men mentor women, it will ultimately lead to stronger and safer workplaces for everyone. When more women are in leadership, organizations offer employees more generous policies14 and produce better business results.15 And when organizations employ more women, sexual harassment is less prevalent.16

Organizations with diverse leadership realize higher profits.17


Not harassing is not enough. We need men to support women’s careers. That’s how we’ll achieve a workplace that is truly equal for all.

— Sheryl Sandberg and P&G’s Marc Pritchard

Read the article in Fortune

What good mentorship looks like

Women receive less of the high-quality mentorship that accelerates careers, so find at least one woman (and ideally several) to mentor and commit to get it right.
Here’s what you should know and do:

Did you know?

Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.18

What to do

What to do: Commit to equal access

Make sure the women you work with get equal access. If you’re uncomfortable going to dinner with female colleagues, meet everyone for breakfast—and encourage other men to do the same.

Why it matters

Why it matters: Women are often excluded

Women are often left out of team activities19 and business travel so they have less opportunity to build valuable relationships.

Did you know?

Women get less support from managers and less access to senior leaders, especially women of color: almost 60% have never had an informal interaction with a senior leader.21

What to do

What to do: Advocate for a woman

Women are less likely to have a sponsor who advocates and opens doors for them.20

Why it matters

Why it matters: Women have fewer sponsors

Put women’s names forward for stretch assignments and promotions and introduce them to the influential people in your network—these personal connections can propel careers.

Did you know?

In a study of performance reviews, 66% of women received negative feedback on their personal style such as “You can sometimes be abrasive”, while only 1% of men received that same type of feedback.22

What to do

What to do: Give actionable advice

Give women specific input on the skills they need to build and tie it to business outcomes. For example, “You should deepen your knowledge of digital marketing so we can reach more customers online.” Actionable feedback like this helps your mentee build the know-how to advance.

Why it matters

Why it matters: Women tend to get vague feedback

Women are more likely to get advice on their personal style such as, “The way you speak can be off-putting,” while men tend to get skills-based feedback that helps them improve their performance.23

Challenge gender bias at work

Women are doing their part. They’re earning more bachelor’s degrees, asking for promotions, and staying in the workplace at the same rate as men. Yet the proportion of women at every level of corporate America has hardly changed. Gender bias has a lot to do with this. 50 Ways to Fight Bias pairs a card-based activity with short videos to give you the tools to address gender bias head-on.

Explore 50 Ways to Fight Bias


  1. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, February 22-March 1, 2019.
  2. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, March 6-10, 2019.
  3. Tammy D. Allen, Lillian T. Eby, Mark L. Poteet, Elizabeth Lentz, and Lizzette Lima, “Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Proteges: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Applied Psychology 89, no. 1 (Feb. 2004): 127–36,; Catalyst, Mentoring: Necessary but Insufficient for Advancement, 2010,
  4. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019,
  5. Allen et al., “Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Proteges.”
  6. George F. Dreher and Taylor H. Cox Jr., “Race, gender, and opportunity: A study of compensation attainment and the establishment of mentoring relationships,” Journal of Applied Psychology 81, no. 3 (1996): 297–308,
  7. Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M. Cook, “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks,” Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 415–44,
  8. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, January 2018.
  9. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019.
  10. Deepali Bagati, Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms, Catalyst, 2009,
  11. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019.
  12. Steven H. Lopez et al., “Power, Status, and Abuse at Work: General and Sexual Harassment Compared,” The Sociological Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2009): 3–27,
  13. Jennifer L. Berdahl, “The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women,” Journal of Applied Psychology 92, no. 2 (2007): 425–37,
  14. Paul Ingram and Tal Simons, “Institutional and Resource Dependence Determinants of Responsiveness to Work-Family Issues,” The Academy of Management Journal 38, no. 5 (1995): 1466–82,
  15. Jennifer L. Berdahl, “The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women,” Journal of Applied Psychology 92, no. 2 (2007): 425–37,
  16. Vivian Hunt, Sarah Prince, Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle and Lareina Yee, “Delivering Through Diversity,” McKinsey & Company, 2018,
  17. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, March 2019.
  18. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, February 22-March 1, 2019.
  19. Sharon Timberlake, “Social capital and gender in the workplace,” Journal of Management Development 24, no. 1 (2005): 34–44,
  20. Sylvia Ann Hewlett et al., The Sponsor Effect: Breaking Through the Last Glass Ceiling (Boston: Harvard Business Review, 2011),
  21. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019.
  22. Kieran Snyder, “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews,” Fortune, August 24, 2014.
  23. Shelley Correll and Caroline Simard, “Research: Vague Feedback Is Holding Women Back,” Harvard Business Review, April 29, 2016,