What does it take to be a male ally in the workplace today? We asked Greg Montrose | Global Director of Marketing – Sensor Solutions Business, just one of the many men at TE Connectivity working for gender equality in the workplace and beyond.
From resisting the urge to solve the problem alone to how he uses his leadership position to influence positive change, Greg doesn’t shy away from sharing the challenges and solutions he’s found on his gender equality journey so far. As a result, the interview is a great source for anyone looking for advice on being a better male ally in the workplace — thanks, Greg!
How can men be better allies to women?
- Recognition of the problem – As a society, we require a better balance across gender and culture. If we are going to experience transformation faster, businesses need to recognize the challenge and make the advancement part of our global culture.
- The balance of how to solve the problem – I have a personality flaw of wanting to solve all problems. As a leader and one that wants to see progress towards a greater gender balance, I reflect on the fact that the best answers won’t come from me and it is not an issue I can tackle alone. I can’t “mansplain” our way to equality. Hear what your employees are saying by creating an environment that encourages feedback; for example, anonymous surveys can help teams share their feedback to generate better conversations and priorities. Let them take risks to make changes.
- Leverage HR to scale – Encourage team members to participate in and expand employee resource groups focused on creating and supporting a more diverse workforce. At TE, one resource group is Women in Networking (WIN). I am extremely proud that the members of my team are both participating and leading efforts within the group to make progress. I ensure that I support them with time, opinions when asked, and promotion of the network within onboarding of new employees and acquisitions. For smaller companies, consider inviting an outside speaker for a panel discussion or consultant to shape a plan towards a more diverse workforce.
- Drive the brand to take a stance – To me, the most powerful companies use their brand voice to hold a strong position on gender and racial equality and match that voice to being proactive. Building a brand voice that drives the internal to drive the recognition into action.
- Bring women together – Encourage mentorships. Being a mentor is one of my favorite parts of my job and I encourage female employees and female managers to pair up to learn from each other. Female managers are going to have better experience and expertise in understanding the dynamics of generating new opportunities as a woman. For example, I can’t help an employee understand what it feels like to be the only female on a leadership team.
- Recognize the differences in situations – The recent pandemic is a perfect situation to recognize. Our global team experienced COVID-19 in different stages and unique ways. I lead a team with seven team members across three regions; six of the team is women and five of them are working mothers. Being flexible to their hours, call schedules, and working conditions at home is needed. In the big picture, I expect 2020 to be a blip on the radar. Ensuring my team can support themselves, and their families, sets us up for success together.
- Measure – (plan do check act)
What can a male ally do on a day-to-day basis in the workplace to drive gender equality?
Identify areas for development – Development conversations should be frequent for all. The dynamic of parenting has the potential to shift the timing of career development and role changes, but it cannot detract from career aspirations or a person’s opportunity to advance. Frequent conversations on short term and long-term aspirations allow for alignment to drive progress at the employee’s pace.
Why is being a male ally important to you?
I was raised by a working mother, focused to ensure my sister and I had opportunities to pursue our dreams. I’ve watched my wife transition from a full-time physical therapist to stay-at-home mom, and re-entering the workforce as a part-time PT, aligning her career aspirations to her aspirations to be a great mom. I also work with some incredible women in various roles and positions at TE. They are all an inspiration in their own unique ways. We (society) can be better. I can do better. This is an opportunity to create a better future for everyone, including my five-year-old daughter. She is just as strong and capable as my boys. She deserves an equal chance.
What are the behaviors you role model at home as a male ally?
Home is not different in terms of culture. I consider my wife to be a role model for women in both the career choices she has made as well as her work as a volunteer with our local fire department. My goals for my children are to create equal opportunities for all of them. My oldest son (10) is approaching an age where it will be critical to have deeper conversations about respect for women. If we expect to build on the progress, we have to make the awareness strong and relevant to our next generation.