The One Thing Male Business Leaders Can Learn From Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper arrives at the 69th annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 7, 2015, in New York. (Photo b
Bradley Cooper arrives at the 69th annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 7, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Just do one thing - Take Action!

Recently Bradley Cooper came out and stated he is going to be an advocate for pay equity in his future movie roles. He said that he has started "teaming up" with female co-stars to negotiate salaries before films go into production.

What does this have to do with leaders in corporate America? I work with senior male leaders everyday who "get it." Men who are champions for advancing women. Yet many ask, "What is it I can specifically do to demonstrate advocacy?" What they want to know is,

How do I walk the talk? Take Action!

This is what a male champion for advancing women does. He sees an inequality and he commits to change. Attracting, developing and advancing women in organizations is just that easy... and just that hard. Every business leader knows that representation is lacking for women in middle and senior management, yet few take tangible action.

What is also interesting is that Cooper did not make this commitment until his friend and frequent co-star Jennifer Lawrence talked about her pay inequity. Cooper was probably aware that there was pay gap, but like most men, he never really thought about it until it became personal. However once he became aware of the situation, he took action.

This is the same in much of corporate America. Leaders are aware of the disparities that women face and yet they CHOOSE not do anything about them.

Earlier this year, I published, Why Women, a book about the urgent need for male engagement to tap into the tremendous economic impact of women in the marketplace and workplace, and for organizational success. In June, I launched the Father of a Daughter initiative to provide actionable steps and ideas to help men to get involved. My thesis is that it is critical for men to advocate for more diverse workplaces and women in leadership positions.

Are you ready to Take Action? Consider these first steps:

  1. Seek to Understand. Find a female co-worker, someone you can have an honest conversation with, and listen to the experiences she is having as a woman in your company
  2. Mentor and Sponsor. Mentor a female co-worker. If applicable, become a sponsor for a woman
  3. Champion Gender Pay Equity. Deepen your understanding of your company's HR practices, specifically gender pay equity issues and work to correct issues you discover
  4. Set An Example to Correct Bias. Act to correct micro bias; from simple things like always having a woman take notes, to women being talked over in meetings or other actions that serve to exclude women from conversations and activities
  5. Engage Other Men. Engage other fathers of daughters in the discussion of advancing women

Kudos to Bradley Cooper. His personal actions exhibit leadership and send a signal to others that our actions can change the status quo. He took a bold step toward making things better for the people he works with and the larger community he lives in and influences. Cooper is a role model to create change in his workplace -- a male champion.