6 Ways for Men To Be Women’s Workplace Ally

Recently in the fight for gender equality at work, men are the group that’ve been identified as crucial in helping women advance.

Only last week Cpl participated in the panel discussion on the importance of the allyship at work and why it’s men who need to become gender-balance champions for change.

An ally, being a person of privilege, supports a marginalised group or an individual. Being an ally means you’ve made a conscious effort to involve all employees in your company’s decision-making process by ensuring that everyone’s views, thoughts, and opinions are heard and respected. How can men achieve this?

Here are 6 practices men can embrace to advocate for gender equality:

1) Listen

Listen to as many voices as possible. Work on your active listening skills, try to hear not only the words a person is saying but also the meaning behind them and the complete message being sent.

Ensure you have understood properly, ask clarifying questions if needed. When it’s time to talk, don’t talk over the people you claim to be in solidarity with. Most of all, be patient even if the person could get to the point quicker.

2) Amplify

The Brigham Young University and Princeton research found that on the average men dominate 75% of the conversation during meetings. 

When women speak out, they are often ignored, put down, shunned, or have their ideas co-opted by someone else. Many women report only having their ideas taken seriously when reiterated by a man in the room.

When you hear a woman being talked over or interrupted, or credit for an idea or work being stolen, speak up. By reiterating a thought shared and attributing it to the woman who offered it, you endorse worthy ideas and ensure that credit is given where it’s due. If you’re active on social media, make sure to share, retweet, and comment on women’s accounts to assure they’re heard.

Use your privilege like a spotlight to highlight the words of women who might otherwise fall on deaf ears.

3) Mentor

Mentoring can have a substantial impact; so much so it was recently found to be the most impactful activity for increasing diversity and inclusion at work.  Receiving mentorship from senior males can increase compensation and career progress satisfaction for women, particularly for those working in male-dominated industries.

Find ways to mentor women in your field. This can be done via organised mentoring programs if they exist, or informal mentoring. Schedule regular calls or find a coffee shop or office with other people around. Keep it professional. Ask women what would help them most, ask good questions and prepare your advice. Try to recruit other men to become mentors for programs.

4) Advocate

When recruiting for new positions, is your company embracing research-driven practices that reduce bias? Do you embrace pay transparency or other accountability measures for providing equal pay for equal work? Do you have a gender-neutral bathroom? On-site child care and lactation rooms? How about equal parental leave policies that enable all working parents to thrive?

Join women in advocating for flexible hours, working from home arrangements and on-site childcare. These policies help women and men, as women aren’t the only ones caring for family members. These policies can’t be enacted without male allies, so become active in these conversations.

5) Call It Out

Support women who are being treated poorly, demeaned or harassed in any way shape or form. Speak up to let the offending colleague know that it’s not okay to behave this way or encourage a woman to report the problem to human resources. Offer to go with her if she seems unsure and share what you’ve seen. If it’s only women who are asked to fetch coffee or take notes in meetings, question the practice or volunteer yourself.

Sexism at a workplace can take a toll on woman’s sense of confidence, as well as her reputation. Unfortunately, microaggressions like actions, statements or incidents projecting subtle and often unintentional discrimination against women are not rare.  Apart from that, women also frequently face discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class or their ability.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and make your work environment one that is welcoming and inclusive.

6) Recruit Inclusively

Insist that recruiting teams that present candidates for an open role include a high percentage of resumes representing top female talent. You can also try blind résumé evaluation technique. In this hiring process résumés are being evaluated without names attached in order to reduce potential gender bias.

Believe women in your office when they come to you with concerns. Validate women’s experiences, even if you’re feeling called out or are tempted to get defensive. Practice empathically putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their experience. Get curious about what women need to feel respected, valued, and safe – even if that requires soliciting anonymous feedback.