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How To Be A Male Ally In The Workplace

How to be a Male Ally in the Workplace

With Show Runner Julie Kratz and Kathy Cunningham at Women in Automotive

With the revolutionary social changes brought into society by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, workplace ecosystems are evolving more rapidly than ever before. Julie Kratz, the owner of Pivot Point, is helping us navigate these changes on the Showrunner Podcast: Live from Orlando. Kratz’s work as a gender equality advocate throughout her career has allowed women to create their own career “game plans” and helped office leaders to understand how to be an ally for employees of all genders. Kratz’s strategy is not a matter of men vs. women it’s a call for unity in the workplace and an understanding of the strength that comes from mutual comfort and potential to succeed.

How can women identify their male allies in the office?

Unsurprisingly, it is not that difficult for male coworkers to be aware and respectful of their female peers. A man becomes an ally when he uses his advantage to lift up the women around him. Kratz has narrowed down four signs of a strong, male ally:

1. Men who have succeeded thanks to powerful women.

These men grew up with strong female role models, began their careers with female mentors, or look up to the women around them for their merit. They often want to pay forward the help they’ve received, and know they are in a position to do so.

Men who listen to women’s stories.

Women are four times more likely to be interrupted than men because we, as a society, do not value a woman’s stories or opinions as much as a man’s. Male allies will check that bias and make sure women in their workplace can be heard. Moreover, these men will use what they learn from women to speak up for their female coworkers and advocate for them when the need arises.

Men who let women be confident without feeling threatened.

These men understand that they are not inherently better than the women around them, and therefore are not worried about the women around them succeeding. Success isn’t a limited resource – a woman’s success is not a threat to a man’s success. If a man is threatened by a woman being confident and speaking up for herself, but not by another man doing the same thing, he has a deeper issue with how he views women relative to himself.

Men who understand that work/life integration looks different for men and women.

Women spend an average of 6 hours a week more than men on domestic work around the home. Men being conscious of this means they don’t make comments on how tired their female coworkers look or ask them who’s watching the kids while they’re in the office.

How can men become those allies?

Start by breaking down the perception of unpaid labors – things like housework, childcare, etc. – that are seen as being of less value because they are traditionally done by women. Showing respect to these things even when they come up in daily conversation can go a long way.

Understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is all “woe is you, bless your heart,” and it’s entirely unhelpful. Empathy is a connection with another person, and it says you’re there to help if needed. That’s what your female coworkers need.

Stop explaining things to women who didn’t ask for an explanation. There’s a pretty good chance that if a woman was hired for her job, or is doing something that pertains to her area of expertise, she’s competent. She doesn’t need men to stand over her and tell her how to do her job. If she needs help, she will ask for it. When you assume that women need your input, you’re telling them they are unskilled in their field and unwelcome in their workplace. “Mansplaining” a woman’s job to her and “bro-propriating” her space isn’t cool.

Trust your female coworkers. Since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have gained momentum, 63% of men are reported to feel uncomfortable working alone with a woman, for fear of being reported for inappropriate conduct. However, the thing is, if you don’t act inappropriately, you won’t get reported. It’s simple. Women don’t make stuff up to get men in trouble.

They have nothing to gain from that. You have nothing to fear if you don’t do anything weird. Trust that your coworkers aren’t out to ruin your career and keep your behavior professional.

How can leadership set an example?

If you find yourself at the head of a workforce, there are some things to keep in mind.

Diverse/inclusive teams perform better than homogenous groups. The greater the expanse of backgrounds, cultures, and gender experiences you can gather for your team, the greater the outcome will be. Having all those perspectives to analyze your work is priceless. Refining your products through the reviews of people who represent your entire customer base is priceless.

If you’re looking to promote from within, don’t be afraid to look at your female or POC employees. If the merit is equal, you only stand to gain from having a diverse group of leaders represent your company. It makes the diverse employees feel welcome and inspired, and it will keep all of those great perspectives at the heart of your business. Work to uncover and combat your own biases and stereotypes. There’s a great technique to make sure your products or advertisements aren’t going to come across as tone-deaf to your audience: FLIP IT TO TEST IT. Replace the subject of your ad or product demographic with someone else and see if it’s weird. Picture this: you’re selling dish soap and your commercial features a man washing dishes. His wife comes up and praises him for being such a good and helpful husband. Now flip it. It’s a woman washing dishes with your dish soap and her husband comes up and praises her for being such a good and helpful wife. Now it seems weird, the man complimenting his wife because we expect women to do the dishes. That’s our bias, uncovered.

Do women need to change, too?

Yes. Stop putting down your fellow women. Stop judging whether they’re married or unmarried, whether or not they have children, if they go out to bars on weeknights, their choice of jewelry, etc. Women are your allies! They’re on your team, and we can’t afford to turn against one another. Advocate for your fellow women at work. Offer emotional support. You know how hard it is to be in their position, so don’t let them deal with everything alone. Be a mentor, a sponsor, an example of a leader that other women and men want to emulate.

Advanced Marketing Strategies is a great example of unity in the workplace; being run by a woman who has led the way in company culture that is thoughtful, communicative, and constantly striving to improve! With programs like Podcast Palooza, Book of the Month and Goals Programs we are always looking to improve our communication skills. And that translates into stronger work for our clients as well. Building strong relationships starts at home! Looking to build stronger work teams at your office? Hit us up! We’d love to chat over coffee about some of the great tools we’ve learned!

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