6 Ways Men Can Be Stronger Allies to Women in the Workplace

Leading voices gather to discuss engaging male allies in the workplace

Photo courtesy of Fairygodboss

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Evidence shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.

So how can we better engage male allies today? Recently, leaders from Nielsen, IBM, Google, Facebook, PwC, Accenture, Robert Half and Salesforce came together at Galvanize 2019, a two-day summit hosted by Fairygodboss, to discuss the importance of male allyship. Watch the video below for key insights from these diversity leaders on how we can better engage male allies and support women in the workplace. 

“If we don’t involve male allies into the conversation, we don’t create a culture of inclusion where everyone can be heard,” said Celeste Warren, Merck's Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, to Galvanize attendees.

“It’s very important for women to see that men are taking responsibility to change the game,” she added. “This shifts the conversation completely.” 

“The good news is that men really want to help,” said Sam Saperstein, Head of Women on the Move at JP MorganChase. “It’s just a matter of getting started.”  

Today we know that when male allies are involved in gender diversity initiatives, the results are considerably better. The issue is that most men don’t know where to begin. In fact, in a recent Fairygodboss survey, 88% of men said they want to be allies to women, though 56% don’t know how to help. 

If men are essential to helping accelerate the path to gender equality in the workplace, what are actionable steps they can take? 

To dig into this further, we asked leaders at Galvanize: What’s the first step men can take to be stronger allies to women in the workplace? Here’s what they said.

1. Be part of the conversation. 

“I believe that male allies are critical to helping women be successful, both on an individual level and across society as a whole. The first step that men can take is to get involved. Don’t be afraid to be part of the conversation and more importantly, learn how to be part of the solution.”  — Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business

Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business
Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business

2. Listen.

“Men must understand that being an ally is not an act of heroism and we are at a real moment in time to accelerate the path to gender equality. Inclusion is about making sure that everyone, especially women, are heard. And men can play a huge role in making that happen by simply listening.” — Will Post, Industry Manager of US Marketing Solutions, Facebook

Will Post, Industry Manager of US Marketing Solutions, Facebook
Will Post, Industry Manager of US Marketing Solutions, Facebook

3. Ask questions. 

“Men can be better allies if they first understand what they need to do. Our research shows that men feel very uncomfortable and unsure of themselves when it comes to supporting women in the workplace. So I would say men first need to listen and ask questions.” — Georgene Huang, Co-founder, Fairygodboss

Georgene Huang, Co-founder, Fairygodboss
Georgene Huang, Co-founder, Fairygodboss

4. Call out behaviors.

"I think the first step that men can take is just to listen, observe and call out behaviors that shouldn’t be in the workplace. It doesn’t take a lot of resources to be an ally — it takes intentionality — and that’s what we need more of from men.” — Paul Francisco, CDO and Head of Workforce Development Programs, State Street 

Paul Francisco, CDO and Head of Workforce Development Programs at State Street (2nd to right)
Paul Francisco, CDO and Head of Workforce Development Programs at State Street (2nd to right)

5. Understand that allyship is reciprocal.

“I think that as men think about being allies, it’s important to remember that allies are reciprocal. Understand that generosity always comes back and if we’re really generous as allies to women, we’re actually going to be stronger and perform better in our roles as well.” — David Kenny, CEO and Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen

David Kenny, CEO and Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
David Kenny, CEO and Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen

6. Give women credit.

“Men can be stronger allies simply by supporting the roles and advancement of women. Even if you’re not a manager, make sure women are invited to meetings, repeat what women say and give them credit for their ideas. That’s a great way to show support and be an ally.” — Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer, William Morris Endeavor 

The New York Times' Rebecca Blumenstein (left) with Bozoma Saint John, CMO of William Morris Endeavor (right)
The New York Times' Rebecca Blumenstein (left) with Bozoma Saint John, CMO of William Morris Endeavor (right)

Your 2020 Blueprint for Gender Diversity in the Workplace.

To help your company better engage male allies and accelerate the path towards gender equality, check out our latest resource, The 2020 Blueprint for Gender Diversity in the Workplace, which compiles key takeaways from leading voices at Galvanize 2019.

Inside, get tips from diversity leaders who share five steps to building more diverse workplaces, including how to: 

  1. Take your diversity investment up a level

  2. Build your pipeline of qualified female talent 

  3. Engage male allies

  4. Seek buy-in from the top

  5. Rethink the future of work

Download the blueprint