When it comes to being an ally for gender equality, believing in the cause is only part of the equation: men must both value equality, and actively work to achieve it. Here, we offer five ways to be a more proactive ally to women.
- Listen to people from marginalised groups and hear their stories. For example, look for opportunities to hear about women’s experiences in your workplace and seek feedback about how you can “show up” for them as an ally.
- Recognise there is more than one experience. Transgender women or women of colour, for example, may have different needs.
- Move beyond helping individuals. Act to disrupt oppressive structures in your environment and the status quo. For instance, if you witness inappropriate language by other men in the room, actively call out the inappropriate language. Don’t just dismiss sexist comments or acts as “banter” or jokes.
- Empower women. There needs to be a concerted effort to elevate women, celebrate their successes, and actively promote them. JPMorgan Chase launched an initiative the company calls “30-5-1,” which is designed to bring women and men together to support their female colleagues. Employees are encouraged to spend 30 minutes each week meeting with a talented woman, 5 minutes congratulating a female colleague on a win, and 1 minute praising that woman to other colleagues.
- Sponsor a woman. Mentoring is when you talk to the mentee in the room. Sponsorship is when you talk about your mentee when they’re not in the room. If the right mentor can take a woman far, the right sponsor can take her even further. The difference? Mentors offer advice and time. Sponsors, in contrast, are more invested, and offer opportunities, visibility and connection. A US/UK survey by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 44% of women with sponsors felt comfortable asking to work on high-profile projects. That number fell to 36% for women without sponsors. If men want to help elevate more women to leadership, they should take a more active role in introducing women to the experiences and opportunities that help them succeed.
Let us know what you have done to be a proper ally to women and how that is going.