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Male allyship: what is it and why is it important?

It is always great when women come together and share ideas and experiences. A coming together of minds happened at the Modern Woman Show on 21st June in London and I was fortunate enough to be a speaker on one of the panels covering the topic of: “The Power of Inclusivity and Leadership”. The panel discussion ranged across a number of topics including the link between female leadership and profitability; the benefits organisations gain from having a strong ED&I culture and the important shift from policies and rhetoric to action in the workplace.


Male allyship


A particular shift that the panel debated was the idea of male allyship in the workplace. Inclusivity and greater gender balance can be achieved by encouraging our male colleagues to recognise and support the women around them.


What is allyship?


Allyship refers to the act of someone who has privilege and power being prepared to use that to support those who may be disadvantaged or lacking in support in order that they may achieve. Allyship provides a supporting voice and helps to promote and support those from under-represented and marginalized communities.


Male allyship in the workplace


As the authors Tsedale, Beeman, Smith & Johnson (2020) (1) writing in Harvard Business Review about allyship in the workplace state:


“For too long, leaders from majority groups have helped preserve the status quo, which favors them, by relegating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to human resources instead of using their own power to effect change.”

These authors view allyship as a way in which those from privileged groups can become “collaborators”, “accomplices” and “co-conspirators” in the workplace to support and advocate for greater equity and inclusivity.


How can male allies provide support?


Male allies can provide this support in two powerful ways. First by recognising the advantages of the power that they have and taking time to learn about the impact that this has on those who do not have access to it to the same degree. Second, by giving support to others both to support their fair advancement but also whenever discrimination or unfair treatment is happening.


Tsedale et al. give this suggestion:

“When you witness discrimination, don’t approach the victim later to offer sympathy. Give him or her your support in the moment.”

Striving for gender equality


For gender balance to be achieved, support in the moment is something that needs to be encouraged. Our panel was asked whether sponsorship of women was part of this support. Finding a female or male sponsor in the organisation was something the panel felt women should be encouraged to do in order to help them steer a path through their career progression and the challenges faced when aiming to be a successful female leader.

Reference:

1. MM Tsedale, A Beeman, DG Smith, WB Johnson (2020) ‘Be a better ally’

Harvard Business Review.



Modern Women event 2023 - Rose and Bloom Coaching - Dr Susan Rose

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