Posted: March 24, 2015, 11:51 p.m.
by Laura Gregory.
In March 2013, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, published “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”, a book that digs deeper into why women are stalling in reaching their full potential in the workplace and offers compelling solutions to women for maximizing that potential.
The book received a great deal of national media attention for its direct approach to an issue that had previously been pushed aside as not crucial to discuss. Now, two years later, Sandberg has taken the next step in her campaign to empower women in the workplace by targeting a new audience: men.
On March 5, Sandberg, along with Adam Grant, published an op-ed in The New York Times encouraging men and women to “join forces in championing gender parity” and introduced #LeanInTogether.
“Men may fear that as women do better, they will do worse. But the surprising truth is that equality is good for men, too,” Sandberg and Grant wrote. “Equality is not a zero-sum game.” They encouraged people to provide feedback and show how they are promoting gender equality using #LeanInTogether.
The Lean In website has been updated to include a section dedicated solely to the #LeanInTogether campaign. The section provides detailed suggestions for men to get more involved at home, such as how to be a 50/50 partner, how to be an active father, how to close the wage gap at home, and how to challenge gender stereotypes. The website also provides tips for supporting gender equality in the workplace, such as challenging the likeability penalty, evaluating performance fairly, giving women credit and getting the most out of meetings.
The campaign and subsequent hashtag caught on like wildfire as celebrities across the country, from Oprah Winfrey to Brad Paisley, tweeted in their support. Condoleeza Rice tweeted, “My dad taught this little girl to chase her dreams & never give up. In for equality? Pass it on – #LeanInTogether.”
The NBA and the WNBA have also made a move to partner with the #LeanInTogether campaign. In a press release, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote, “The NBA is committed to creating a work environment that expects – and benefits from – gender equality.”
The NBA and WNBA also released a video highlighting prominent stars from their respective organizations supporting #LeanInTogether. The video features athletes like LeBron James, who holds a sign that reads “All-Star Dad #LeanInTogether” and Dwayne Wade, who wrote “I lean in for my wife, my mother, my grandmother” on his sign.
Sandberg and Grant argue that the greatest potential impact the campaign has is on future generations. They cite research supporting the positive benefits for children with involved fathers.
“What mattered most was what fathers did, not what they said. For a girl to believe she has the same opportunities as boys, it makes a big difference to see Dad doing the dishes,” Sandberg and Grant wrote in their op-ed. They go on to mirror the same argument to show the positive benefits for sons whose mothers have “meaningful roles at work.”
An article in The New Yorker cites Rachel Thomas, the president of the Lean In organization, on the purpose of the campaign. Thomas said, “As an organization, LeanIn.Org is focused on driving individual change. Too often, people pit one approach against another. We need every tactic to reach equality, and the more organizations that join, the broader the cause, the more successful we’ll all be.”
#LeanIn and #LeanInTogether are not meant to be political campaigns. The purpose is not to drive massive political changes, but rather to reach out to individuals directly and encourage both men and women to work toward gender equality together. #LeanInTogether allows people nationwide to come together to support the cause.