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September 6, 2020

How to be a Male Ally in the Workplace

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From the gender pay gap’s impact on families to the detrimental effect on the country’s GDP, it’s increasingly clear that inequality is not just a ‘woman’s issue’. As such, more and more people are beginning to ask how they can become a male ally — especially in the workplace.

What is a male ally?

A male ally is a man actively supporting gender equality, which means they believe all genders should be able to access the same opportunities and resources with the same level of ease. And as one of the greatest sources of opportunities and resources, the workplace is a particularly important place for male allies to be.

To help more men play their vital part in achieving workplace equality, we reached out to male allies across the country for first-hand advice. From why allyship is important to them to the positive impact equality is already having in their teams.

Their responses are a great read for any aspiring male ally.

How to be a male ally in the workplace

Norman Jones | Senior Manager, Diversity Engagement & Employment Brand, Discover

“Listen to what [women] have to say. Allow them the opportunity to offer up their opinions/thoughts without interrupting them. Don’t assume you know what they need or want out of their professional career […] Be vocal when you see a lack of gender equality in your workplace. Champion the hiring, development and promotion of women. If you notice a female direct report or colleague isn’t being heard in meetings, ask her for her opinion or insight on the topic. Don’t just mentor female employees, be a sponsor for them when you are in meetings with key decision makers who have the power to advance their careers.”

Alex Alvarez | SVP Chief Production and Sustainability Officer, Brown-Forman

“As a man, leading global production, a historically male dominated function, I must be a vocal and visible champion for women to help accelerate gender equality in the workplace. I am the father of two daughters and an executive sponsor of our women’s employee resource group. It’s my responsibility and privilege to be a male ally in my personal and professional life. I know that by advocating for women in the workplace and ensuring we provide equal opportunities at Brown-Forman; not only will they benefit, but so will our company and industry. Let’s join together to influence change, challenge biases, and champion women.”

Eric Davis | Sr. Generalist – People and Experience, LiveTiles

“It’s not enough to listen and nod my head or not get involved if things aren’t directed at me. I need to thoroughly try to understand the roots of issues that are being mentioned to me and be engaged in trying to make things better in the workplace. Furthermore, it is important to be able to support those individuals whether one on one or in a group setting. I want my place of work to be an open, safe, creative, and yes, fun place. For that to happen we need to be respectful of everyone.”

Find out what else Eric shared by reading his full interview here.

Erik Olesund | Experience Research Manager, Thumbtack

“[Men must] recognize that we need to change, not women. Inequality between genders in the workplace is rooted in outdated stereotypes, cultural habits, and organizational inertia. What is clear? Women make companies stronger. Academic research has shown that the more women you have on a team, the better that team performs. What I’ve learned from this research is the importance of male allies learning new behaviors to better collaborate rather than asking women to adapt to traditionally masculine norms.”

“[We need to] recognize and name behaviors and structures that are holding non-cis-males back such as: a meeting where only one person isn’t male, cutting someone off (regardless of their gender or position), gravitating towards the perspective that is most loudly or consistently voiced, etc.”

Jac Price | SVP for Supply Chain and Manufacturing Operations, Abcam

“One of the most important actions men can take is to become better educated on topics that impact women in their professional lives. Becoming much more aware of societal, structural (internal and external), and unconscious behaviors that impact women in the workplace will bring more actions oriented at systemic change. I think it starts with more awareness and then moving on to role model better behaviors.”

Want to find out what else Jac had to say? Read his full interview here.

Timothy Carter | Engineering Director, Thumbtack

On a day-to-day basis, we must drive gender equality by:

  • Being mindful of the everyday, common annoyances that add up: mansplaining, the loudest voice in the room getting credit, etc.
  • Learning about the causes and possible solutions to gender inequality, but don’t place the burden of your education on the women around you.
  • Remembering everyone’s situation and context is different. Get to know the people around you and how best to be an ally to them. Don’t assume that commonly accepted frameworks or solutions will necessarily work best for each person and each situation.

Greg Montrose | Global Director of Marketing – Sensor Solutions Business, TE Connectivity

“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 […] 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.”

Find more first-hand advice by reading Greg’s full interview.

Want to be surrounded by supportive colleagues like these?

If you’re looking for a workplace dedicated to supporting women, WORK180 is here to help. You can find exciting opportunities with our trusted and trailblazing Endorsed Employers — including the fantastic companies featured in this article — right here on our jobs page.

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.