Men Are Infiltrating Lean In Circles

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Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Men are geeking out over Lean In. Their words, not mine. According to a weekend story in the New York Times, Brent Grinna, a 31-year-old tech founder, got his old Brown football teammate James Dominick, a 33-year-old asset manager, into Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist manifesto. “We are geeking out over Lean In,” Grinna said. Apparently they are not alone.

The men at the top of Cisco and PricewaterhouseCoopers have brought Lean In Circles to their companies, the Times reports, including a father-daughter circle. Some men are leaning in their members of minority groups underrepresented in management. Others are just leaning in to learn the secret of Sheryl Sandberg’s success.

It’s hard to know what to think about this. On the one hand, the presence of men at the Circle kind of undermines its safe-space, consciousness-raising aspects. No one wants to seem whiny and weak, or worse, face retribution, for talking about sexism in front of the guys. On the other hand, the men in charge are the ones who most need to hear this stuff. And they get it. Look at their salient takeaways!

'After reading the book, I now understand that women are promoted on achievements and men are promoted on promise, which is something from a behavioral bias standpoint just worth knowing.'

'The theme that stuck with me is how gender roles and behavioral expectations play a silent but strong force in the workplace — and that in many ways, as a leader it’s my responsibility to understand them so we can have the most productive workplace.'

'I wanted to create an environment where there is a level of candor where we can talk about questions like, "How do we as an organization provide the flexibility for people to be able to manage the different priorities we all have in life?"'

So even if it won't incite feminist revolution, Lean In might be a good introduction to sexism for the people with the power to make things marginally better in the meantime. For example, I don't know if anyone’s keeping score, but Sandberg is on-the-record responsible for breaking at least one glass ceiling.

In part as a result of reading 'Lean In,' Mr. Grinna said he hired the first woman, Elisabeth Carpenter, to his management team. ‘I’m convinced by both Sheryl and the data of the benefits of having gender balance on a leadership team,’ he said.

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