Why Men Must “Lean In” to Support Women’s Leadership

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Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and craigconnects and a member of the 50×50 Leadership Circle of the Women in Public Service Project, speaks about men’s role in supporting women in public service.

Guys, let’s help get more women into public office.

Okay, this is about fairness, and getting better government everywhere.

I feel that we should treat everyone like we want to be treated, and that means everyone gets a break. That also means that all humans should have a chance to lead, in business and in government. In the US, the Declaration of Independence tells us that we’re all equal under law, and I’m talking about following through with that.

In daily life and in government, when I see women running things, things usually work really well. Sure, there are some examples which seem to be deliberate, like in politics where a woman might front for bad actors, but that’s the exception.

Women’s leadership might be the key to unlocking progress in both government and the business world:

Even though women make up just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, McKinsey studies show that America’s GDP is now 25 percent higher than it would have been without women. All because of women’s work in the marketplace.

A Goldman Sachs study also argues that eliminating the gap between male and female employment rates could boost GDP in America by a total of 9 percent, in the Eurozone by 13 percent, and in Japan by as much as 16 percent.

Recent McKinsey studies show that higher numbers of women in executive positions can result in higher rates of corporate return on equity.

Women voices bring a different perspective to the table in the public sector. Esther Duflo’s research shows that women are more likely to invest in public infrastructure projects—like safe drinking water— and are less likely to feed into corruption than their male counterparts. For example, at the local-level, women-led village councils approved 60 percent more drinking water projects than those led by men. This correlation between women’s leadership and development outcomes is clear.

Another study titled “Gender and Corruption” finds that “(a) in hypothetical situations, women are less likely to condone corruption, (b) women managers are less involved in bribery, and (c) countries which have greater representation of women in government or in market work have lower levels of corruption.”

Guys, it’s time that we helped to make this happen.

I’ve joined up with the Women in Public Service Project to play my part.

WPSP was started a few years ago by Hillary Clinton to promote female leadership across the world. It’s already successful in giving leaders a chance, particularly in parts of the world where leadership from a woman can get her killed.

Please check out the Women in Public Service Project and help out!

Research adapted from Rangita de Silva de Alwis’s forthcoming article on “Why Women’s Leadership is the Cause of Our Time” to be published in UCLA Law School’s Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs 18 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 2013