What Do Male Allies Do?

Male allies cannot declare themselves to be male allies, they are genuine male allies when women recognize them as male allies.

I learned this from two of the very best male allies, Dave Smith and Brad Johnson, authors of Athena Rising, a guide for cross-gender mentoring.  As male allies and advocates for gender equality, they have been connectors, endorsers, interviewees, social media supporters, and mentors for me throughout the daunting process of writing a book.  To me, there is no greater example of male allyship in my career and business.  Their support continues to astound me, and I am stronger today because of their support.  Male allies provide a variety of support just as Brad and Dave do – they may play a role as a mentor, advocate, coach, sponsor, or support women as managers.  They play the role she wants and needs them to play.

We are stronger together.  We are ONE.

A mantra I often sign in copies of our book, ONE, on male allies.  I find stories help showcase what male allies do best.  One my favorite stories of male allyship comes from a male ally I follow, Adam Grant.  Adam is author of Give and Take and Originals, both compelling reads to shake up our views of giving and original thinking.  Being a fan of his work, we reached out to Adam when writing ONE.  Knowing he is incredibly busy, we thought: what is the worst that could happen?  As a genuine and intentional giver, Adam politely declined an interview, but gave us five names of men and women passionate about male allies.  All responded, and this book is far better with their input.  From his male allyship, I got to meet famous authors, experts, and speakers at the forefront of gender equality, Adam’s support paved the way for other men to follow our movement and engage in the content.  One such group he connected me with were the Wharton 22s, a male ally organization at the University of Pennsylvania.

Meet the Wharton 22s

“The 22s” is a reference to the gender pay gap at the time of the group’s inception – one of a number of issues they hope to address.  When founded in 2013, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported a 78% pay gap.  All organizations can learn from what The 22s do well.  Their best practices include:

  • Creating a succinct mission statement focused on gender equality and specific issues the group intends to improve (pay gap, leadership gap, etc.)
  • Including men and women in events, publications, and discussions
  • Coining a playful, inclusive name to enlist the support of male allies
  • Developing a strategic, forward thinking leadership team and board
  • Facilitating dialogues about gender equality in companies and communities

When I spoke with their leadership team, they shared a cohesive passion for male allyship and a genuine interest in advocating for the greater good.  Their organization shows us what good looks like.  If your organization does not have a male ally group, form one using these principles.  Or, if your organization has an employee resource group for women, encourage male allies to join.  Women together will not make the positive change needed to close the pay and leadership gaps, we need male allies to get there.

Interested in learning more?  Follow our blog series, download your Male Ally Action Plan, and order your copy of ONE at NextPivotPoint.com.