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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Derrick

Being a male ally

We hear the term male ally often. So often that it’s easy to miss what is actually meant by this term.

As Kate Dale perfectly put,

“Male allyship is about considering women’s lived experiences… and respecting that it is not just a woman’s responsibility to change the environment that creates barriers”

I found this such a brilliant and enlightening quote having only recently got into an argument with a male leader in sport who unfortunately felt it was the sole responsibility of women to grow women’s sport. I also love how Dale highlights the importance of acknowledging the past, present and where we’re moving to, in the future.

If your a male looking to understand how to be an ally to women, or if you're a women trying to education your partner, colleagues, sons, friends on how they can play their part in creating true equality, here are some tips:

If you’re an influential leader

  • Use your voice and your platform to celebrate women you work with, admire or feel deserve more people to take notice.

If you’re a business manager

  • Create an environment that is accepting, representative and genuinely inclusive to women. This means equal parenting rights for men as well, removing the expectation on women to lead the caregiving role and ensuring men have the same level of empathy for the working parent lifestyle.

  • If you can see it, you can be it. Include women in your leadership team. Where possible, promote women from within. Give women clear development paths for fair growth.

If you’re a colleague or peer (including leaders and managers)

  • Don’t take credit for women’s work. And if you partner with a woman on a project, amplify their involvement.

  • Treat women like you would a male colleague/peer. Pull us up on our bull, congratulate us on our wins, invite us to the pub, involve us in all conversations.

  • Don’t tell mums ‘enjoy your time off’ when going on maternity leave. It’s condescending and simply not true.

  • Educate yourself and be open to be educated. If a woman tells you what you’re doing is sexist – even if not in the traditional definition, listen and make change.

  • Call out sexism when you see or hear it. Whether it’s your staff, colleagues, mates.

  • Volunteer for tasks, even if they won’t contribute to your ‘rep’. Women are 48% more likely to volunteer for tasks that “benefit the organisation but likely don’t contribute to someone’s performance evaluation of career advancement” thus delaying their promotional timeline.

But if you can do just one thing, please appreciate that it’s still incredibly hard to be a woman. We are far from equal to men. We will still miss out on promotions. We will still be paid 80p to the man’s pound (or less if you're a woman of colour). We will be sacred of walking or running home after dark. We will be suspicious of almost everything. We will have a guard up.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for you, please comment below ways you’re being an ally in your business or professional space. And to end on with one of our greatest male ally’s, Andy Murray:

“I think it’s really important to be an ally. As a father of daughters I want my girls to be able to grow up in a world where they can compete in the same way as men, earn a fair wage for it and get decent media exposure for their talents. I believe that will only happen if we challenge the status quo, when we can and call out inequalities when they arise.”
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