Are Men Allies?

As you may know, I am super passionate about helping women navigate male-dominated work environments.

That does not mean I only work with women. ❌

Because this burden should not solely be on women to solve.  🙃

Bringing folks across the gender spectrum, and especially men, into the conversation around gender equity as part of personal and professional development is essential to sustainable change! 👏

Women, particularly women of color, are often in the minority, especially in leadership roles.

And we need male allies to use their privilege to help make this change.

Which brings us to the question: are men doing enough to advocate for the women in their lives? And unfortunately, the data points towards no.

In fact, even well-intentioned allyship can be ineffective in supporting women’s professional well-being and growth.

So, I decided to share some best practices we’ve learned in our Men’s EDGE group coaching experiences over the last ten years! 🎉

And remember, my friends, that a mindset shift is ALWAYS an excellent place to begin. Firstly, an ally is an action, not a noun. Ally is not a title to earn. It is not a gold star. It is a DO-ing. (And guess what my top best practices are? Actions, of course!)

So, are you ready to dive in? Here are my top tips ⬇️

💡 Speak Up

If you are in a meeting and hear a woman get talked over or dismissed – speak up! Let the other person know that the comment is not okay with you – publicly. If it helps to develop a script for these kinds of conversations ahead of time, here are some ideas:

In a meeting, you could say, “One moment, COLLEAGUE NAME, I would like to hear what COLLEAGUE NAME has to share. Can we back up a moment?"

If you find yourself in a conversation that is degrading or demeaning to a woman at a BBQ or offsite company happy hour, you could pause, look the person in the eye evenly, and ask, “Tell me what you mean by that?"

💡 Check In

How can you genuinely support someone you have not built an authentic relationship with? Building relationships built on trust and understanding is vital to being a good ally. Do you know the top personal and professional goals for this year for your women peers? What about your directs?

Have you shared YOURS with them? (Remember that a relationship goes both ways; sometimes, as leaders, when we can lead with our vulnerability, we see that it inspires others to be vulnerable right back!)

Remember that there is not one way to do this perfectly, but hundreds of ways to do it well. Ask the women in your life, “What is one thing I do regularly that feels supportive to you? What is one thing I could do differently?"

💡 Use Your Power

No matter your role or title, if you are a part of the majority (ANY majority), you can leverage your privilege to advocate for others! For most men looking to enhance their advocacy for women, that looks like being thoughtful about who you recommend for a project, a stretch assignment, or even as a possible resource to a problem.

Male managers, think of all the meetings you attend each week. Could you invite a woman peer or direct report to serve as your proxy and perhaps gain additional visibility or exposure she may not have had access to on her own?

For male executives, this could include implementing hiring, promotion, and salary processes built to support true workplace equity. You could also promote professional development programs focusing on building a sustainable and inclusive talent pipeline.

While these tips are a good place to start, EDGE Leadership can help you support your DEIJ efforts through our women’s AND men’s group coaching circles and peer-to-peer mentoring experiences. 🙌

P.S. While this post is focused on gender, it is also a gentle reminder that gender isn’t a binary. And remember, too, my friends, allyship, and advocacy can span race, ethnicity, disability, age, and generation (to name a few!) All of the best practices shared today can bring value in these areas, too – so I encourage you to explore and DM me with questions. You don’t have to navigate this alone! 🥰

Need some more resources on this topic? Check out the articles below and leave any others you have!