books Culture Support Systems

How Male Allies Can Support and Stand For Equality

The Gal’s Guide Library is a resource of books and materials to help men and women in the workplace. Whether seeking a more equitable workspace or fighting back against sexism in the workplace we strive to be of equal help and support. We’re all in this together!

The overall lesson researchers have found is that male allies exist because someone showed them how to do it. This is level of empathy and comradery is not achieved in a vacuum. It is, however, a mindset that can be adapted at any point in life.

How to be a Male Ally

Inspiration to be a male ally starts with strong women in your life. In the book One: How Male Allies Support Women For Gender Equality, Julie Kratz writes, “Male Allies tend to come from men who have strong feminine influences in their personal lives such as grandmothers, mothers, wives, and strong female friends.” 

Channeling that spirit of helpful and courageous women in your life can create an abundant source of inspiration for you to help other women.

Let’s say you don’t have a strong woman in your life but you still very much want to be a male ally. Make it personal.

Robert Eckstein did a TEDtalk where he asked men to think of 4 women they are closest to. It could be their mother, grandmother, wife, friend, co-worker, or daughter. Then to realize that 1 in 4 of them will be a victim of sexual assault. This statics scares women as much as it might scare you. This is why women need allies.

Another way to make it personal is to ask yourself, are you the type of person someone would come to talk about sexual assault with? Do you show traits of a person without judgment or victim-blaming?

When a woman hears someone (male or female) say something such as, “I bet she deserved it” or comment on what someone is wearing in a sexual way, that person is put on a mental checklist of who to not come to for help.

Be the person that people would come to for help. Show, don’t tell.

Communication is key

Look at how the work/school environment is when speaking about women in general. Is there victim blaming? Objectification? Micro-judgments that are based on stereotypes than facts? The more hostile the environment is toward women the less likely a woman would ask for help.

Research has shown that the first person a woman talks to about her abuse and the more helpful and reassuring that conversation is, the less likely she will have symptoms of PSTD.

Forbes published “7 Ways Men Can Support Women As Allies” by saying, “When these men witness their colleagues experience everyday sexism or being a victim of micro-aggressions, instead of being apathetic bystanders, these men call it out. “

Speaking with women, not speaking up for women is key.

When you are in a situation and you feel a woman isn’t behind heard saying something such as, “I believe Sandra had a great idea when she said…” or “I’d like us to really think about Catherine’s point…” Give Credit “I believe Carrie brought us that account.” Phrases like this help.

How Managers Can Make A Big Difference

Julie Kratz writes, “As managers men have a vital role in promoting women and building their confidence. Recognizing achievement and providing opportunities for them to build relationships and access to leadership is key.” 

Julie also adds, “See potential rather than seeking proof of accomplishment.”

Asking women questions to learn what their needs and ideas are. Listen. Don’t make assumptions. Make sure they are getting the credit for their ideas. Make sure they are getting access to skill-building and new opportunities that suit the needs they have voiced. Connected them with people who can best support them. 

When it’s time to Fight Back

Why would a male ally fight back when a female college feels she might need to leave for the job? Besides the personal reason we talked about above? Because there is money being left on the table. Organizations that don’t take equality seriously are 16% less profitable.

It takes vulnerability and selflessness for the male ally to fight back again sexism. Vulnerability is the self-esteem to do what is right. Male allies have said, “it’s fun to root for the underdog.”

Challenge the norm. Speak up for women when they are not in the room. Leverage your voice.

Every time a business loses a woman due to inequality or harassment there was a lost opportunity for a more profitable business, a happier business, and a more inclusive business.

Create a better environment for the next woman. Decide to do better.

Changing the Culture of an Organization (Doing Better)

Julie Kratz recommends, “socialize the term ‘Male Allies’. Experts recommend that recognition and labels help men identify as an active supporter and it reinforces positive behavior.”

A panel of experts has found that the reason men resist male allyship is primarily due to fear. It’s the idea that if a woman gets promoted or paid as much as a man, the man is going to lose something. Studies have found that when a business is more inclusive, profits go up, there are more seats at the table, and the pie gets bigger for everyone.

Another part of the fear is not wanting to say the wrong thing, so nothing is said.

In the book One: How Male Allies Support Women For Gender Equality it is recommended to

  • Create a mission statement focusing on gender equality
  • Create a group of men and women and have specific issues the group intends to improve
  • Don’t name the group something specifically male or female as the opposite gender will feel unwelcomed 
  • Develop a strategic forward-thinking leadership team and board
  • Facilitate dialogs about gender equality in companies and communities  

Finding Inspiration in Dark Times

To stay strong in the dark times, let the women in your life reinforce that you are fighting the good fight. Your voice helps us all move forward to a better future.

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