Men Who Get It: Phil Porado, Content Director, Advisor and Financial Services Groups, Rogers Publishing

Phil PoradoAs content director for the Advisor and Financial Services Group at Rogers Publishing, Porado oversees three teams that produce trade publications read by financial industry professionals in Canada. He’s been with the company for 10 years, holding six different positions. Prior to joining Rogers, Porado worked for a variety of publications in the United States in the finance, architecture and political industries and also covered general news at United Press.

“Having held a variety of different journalism and publishing positions really helps as a manager,” he says, “because when people ask about processes you can give them a real answer.”

Following His Mother’s Advice

“I’m a diversity champion because my mom told me I had to be,” says Porado, only half joking. He says that he had an advantage through growing up with a mom who was an early 20th century career woman, which normalized women in the work force to him.

“I’m a diversity champion because my mom told me I had to be,”

After her father died, she went to work to help support her four siblings when she was just a teen as a bookkeeper at General Electric. It was during World War II when women were welcomed into the workplace so she took advantage of the opportunity to contribute to her family’s income. Before her 19th birthday, she was running the payroll department.

Porado said she stayed home to take care of her own children, but continued to do people’s taxes on the side and assisted with the bulk of financial planning for his father’s business.

“I remember her telling me when I was 10 that someday I would be in charge and I would have to advocate for diverse people in the workplace, because I was a ‘privileged white male,’” he said, adding that his family never hesitated to make him aware of the fact that he was better off than many.

Porado admired that his parents modeled an even division of labor and says that his home was very much a partnership, with no one shouldering the bulk of the less desirable tasks.

Given his upbringing, Porado expected it to be standard operating procedure to work with women and was surprised to enter the workforce and find that sexism was still rampant in the 1980s.

“It offended me,” he says, since he had been raised in a different environment. “If you’re fortunate enough to be enlightened, then it’s your responsibility to pass it on.”

Publishing Industry Better Than Most

On the whole, Porado says the publishing industry was better than most, largely because it is a desirable field for women. He found that there were a large number of women who were choosing the field who were not only interested, but what he calls highly motivated to succeed.

“I find that women differ from some of their male counterparts many times because they are looking to learn things and up their game. They are constantly soliciting information they can use to become more skillful, which men don’t do as much,” he says. He has had the experience corroborated by others. In fact, just recently a colleague who was hiring for a writing and reporting job asked him, “Is it me, or do you also find that the woman are just stronger candidates?”

He says that when people demonstrate a willingness and desire to learn, he can facilitate their learning, making a point to actively teach them how they can progress.

That’s the greatest management lesson of all, he’s found, to help people thrive and then get out of the way. “That’s when championing gets interesting — when people whom you’ve taught show signs of eclipsing you. And that’s when you need to be able to point them to someone who might know better, though not everyone is comfortable with that. Mantle passing is hard, but if you are able to identify and help mentor a protégé, then you are doing your job.”

He has found that being a sponsor comes naturally since his focus is always on helping others with their career growth. He believes you have to advocate for promotions for people behind the scenes, and the best way to do that is to speak up for people when they’re absent, giving credit where it’s due.

“I have the uncomfortable position of people giving me credit when I am undeserving since it was an entire group effort, and I am just the leader,” Porado says. He rights the confusion by being quick to name the team members who actually did the work and acknowledging that even though he might have outlined the game plan, they were the ones who carried the ball.

Boldly Questioning Stereotyping

He says that over the years, he has seen the effects of stereotyping and has been bold about questioning it. “I would step up and say, ‘Why not so and so?’” when the situation presented itself.”

“I would step up and say, ‘Why not so and so?’” when the situation presented itself.”

Another way that he encourages inclusion is by always suggesting that other team members join meetings when it’s appropriate. If he does find himself in a meeting where he feels another team member should have been invited, he makes the contributions he thinks they would have made, even deliberately pointing out that if that person was there, this is what they would say. “The subtle message is that you were remiss in not inviting that person and only consulting with me.”

However, he is quick to point out that things are progressing rapidly; whereas 20 years ago a stereotypical mindsight was noticeable, now it is much less of an issue. “I’ve been privileged to see a lot of change in my life, and I often point out to young people that they are living in a world that we hoped would one day exist, and they should realize and appreciate it.”

By Cathie Ericson