Supporting women in the workplace is not only good for business, it's the right thing to do.
Our male counterparts should be change agents who elevate the presence of women leaders related to business equality. West Michigan Woman sat down with Michael Cazer, COO at Amway and the 2019 Brilliance Awards Top Honoree for Best Supporting Man, to learn more about how he's setting an example for other men and still learning along the way.
What makes you a strong supporter of women in the workplace?
I believe a fundamental role of a leader is to create an environment for their team where everyone feels like they belong and can achieve their potential. The dynamics in the world—and at work—were set up by men and for men. As a result, they have a systemic bias. To achieve an inclusive environment, we must directly address this bias and actively create an environment and culture where women feel like they belong and can achieve their goals. I also believe that for companies—and countries for that matter—to compete, we need everyone to be able to contribute fully.
How would you advise other men to increase their support of women in the workplace?
- Build awareness within yourself of the inherent bias in your organization and yourself. This step sounds easy, but it may push you out of your comfort zone on long-standing assumptions and behaviors.
- Make gender equity a priority for your organization and yourself. Talk about gender equity, talk about its importance to the organization and talk about how you're personally striving to improve in this area.
- Establish metrics. Measure yourself and your organization on improvement.
- Engage other men. Empowerment of women won't happen without the active engagement of men since we are often in the position of influence and power in business.
- Lead! Be a visible, action-oriented champion on empowering women and gender equity.
During your career, what has been one of your greatest accomplishments in supporting the work of women?
I must admit that I didn't champion gender equity and women empowerment from day one of my career. I have been growing in this area over time and it has been part of my leadership journey—an important part. I am proud of the progress we have made at Amway in the last several years. We made this a business priority, we've talked about it and we've walked-the-talk.
Women now make up nearly half of the company's top executives, up from just 14 percent five years ago. The percentage of women designated as top talent in the company is up 9 points to 50 percent and the percentage of promoted staff who are women is up 10 points. We have made great strides and are not done yet.
Why should we seek to elevate the work of women in the community and beyond?
Two simple reasons: First, it's the right thing to do—to make our companies, organizations, and country places where everyone feels like they belong and can achieve their potential. Second, it makes us better able to compete in an increasingly competitive world.
Edited by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.