6 Things Great Male Allies Do: Lessons From A Project In Male Allyship

5ca4f2fe236de0e71d68c1b2e6914f65-originaReal Actions by Real Men
 

Image courtesy of Christin Hume.

By Rachana Bhide. I was having a Sunday chat with a male friend of mine, a successful tech CEO, who is very committed to building a workplace that supports women and men equally.
 
“Rachana,” he said to me. “I went on your website [Corner of the Court] and really like the stories [successful women sharing positive stories of their male allies]. But maybe you can break it down for me even more. Tell me exactly what it is I need to know, in one sentence, that these guys are doing so that I can also do it.”
 
So I took his suggestion. I read through our stories and tried to pick out some unique and compelling themes—specific behaviors to make it relevant and actionable—that our mentors, sponsors, and partners have shown.
 
Ready for the list? Here are six things a great male ally does:
 
He knows the culture
In any organization, leveraging your influence successfully relies on knowing and working within the culture.
 
Jen Welter, the first female to coach in the NFL, said her ally, Bruce Arians, Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals, knew how important it was to focus on the players. “In the process of hiring me… he wanted my position to be something his players were also proud of—in a way, he was letting the guys on the team be heroes in championing me,” says Jen.
 
Kim Saxton, Associate Professor of Marketing at Indiana University, says that her mentor, Shawn, knew the pharmaceutical company where they worked heavily valued titles and pedigree. As such, when she joined his team in a senior role, he made sure to introduce her by leading with both her title and educational background—that she was a graduate of MIT and would be his trusted advisor.
 
He "signals" to others that he supports this woman and her role
Kim said her former boss used to visibly show others his support in a subtle but powerful way, a behavior she calls signaling. “At the start of the meeting, he would come in with his coffee cup, pause, and then leave. Then the meeting would start. Everyone knew I was still there and I was his delegate.”
 
Karen Catlin, an advocate for women in tech, had a former boss, Digby, who was also visible in his support. “He would preface things with, ‘What I learned from Karen is…’” says Karen. She continues, “This demonstrated a great deal of respect for me in front of my new colleagues.”

He asks her a really great question
Great allies on our website have often been able to make a lasting impact with only a few, thoughtful words.
 
Chief Millennial Officer Liz Quandt says her ally, JC, asked her, “What can you do to go the extra mile?” while she was “breaking through many self-imposed limitations. He often asked me questions to get me to expand my thinking to go above and beyond.”
 
Similarly, when Emily Ceskavich, a Recruitment Marketing Specialist, hesitated about taking a new role, her boss, Kevin, asked, “Why don’t you want to be a recruiter?” “If Kevin hadn’t intervened when I was feeling intimidated by the newness of cold calling, there is a possibility that I wouldn’t have developed the experience and skills that have been so critical to my career as a marketer now,” says Emily.
 
Events Strategist Nicole Powell’s ally, Rory, gave her a thought-provoking “assignment” to define her five value pillars, which Nicole says “greatly helped me learn a lot about myself” while she was going through a career transition.

He trusts his instincts, even if it means taking a chance
Many of our women tell stories starting out in a particular career or job and having a male ally that trusted his instincts as he mentored her.
 
Jen knew that Bruce did not have “an easy decision, and certainly it was not one that had been made before,” in hiring her to be the first woman to coach in the NFL.
 
She says, “Bruce is known for his saying, ‘No risk it, no biscuit,’ and that statement definitely applied to his decision to hire me. His courage in hiring me, a woman, has now opened the door for many other coaches to follow. I take great pride in knowing that Bruce was the first.”
 
Shelley Smith of ESPN shares, “I was a new, young reporter for SI assigned to the NBA finals in the late 1980s. I was terrified. Jack (McCallum), whom I had never met, took me under his wing, showed me the ropes.”

He adapts, pitches in, and shifts his own role
Several of our stories show how male allies are willing to make a needed shift without minimizing their own contributions.
 
Megan Anderson, Founder of #GoSponsorHer, says of her fiancée Mike, “Sharing the pie 50/50 is tricky, given that the proportions are always shifting and someone always ends up needing to do more of the grunt work at any given time. Mike and I are explicit about those shifts and explicit about who is taking the lead on the home front.”
 
Julie Kratz, author of ONE: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality, says that without her husband, Rustin, “Our coaching business and family life would not be possible. He maintains the home, takes excellent care of our amazing girls, helps with our business, and is always there when I need that nudge or to vent about travel snafus. He’s our family’s rock.”
 
Megan also says, “If we are going to make real change, we have to allow men to change, too—they needn’t carry the traditional pressures of being the sole partner with a career.”
 
He builds possibilities
Our great male allies and mentors help us create.
 
This can be the actual, physical co-creation of a product, as in the case of Erin Albert and her mentor, Dr. David Borst, who together authored The S(He) Says Guide to Mentoring, a “his and hers perspective on setting up women’s mentoring programs.”
 
It can also be helping a woman see what possibilities lie ahead. Sociologist Christin Munsch says her mentor, Dr. M., asked if she would like to go to Cornell University for graduate school, which Christin says, “set in motion a career trajectory beyond my wildest dreams. Had he not suggested Cornell, I wouldn’t have applied and I certainly wouldn’t have been accepted or graduated. I took on an ambitious dissertation project, which helped me land a prestigious postdoc at Stanford… [which led to] my current position which is, in every way, my dream job.”
 
8620fd272e3579d779d81c8abaeb365e-originaRachana Bhide is a global organizational development professional, with 17 years experience as a change management leader across North America, Europe and Asia. She is the founder of The Corner of the Court Project, sharing success stories of men who support diversity. 

 
Posted by MARC Catalyst on Jan 10, 2018 8:40 AM America/New_York

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