Alpha Challengers – Championing Diversity Episode 3: Male Allies - Finishing the Journey Together
Katie.Dix / 01 Oct 2020
Why men should be allies – and what they can do
As part of our E2W Alpha Challengers series, we hosted a webinar on the subject of ‘Male Allies – finishing the journey together’. The four men on our panel brought together decades of experience of supporting women in the finance sector, while our sole female speaker has a leading consultancy role in helping companies recognise the value of diversity in their businesses.
We covered a lot of ground. In fact, far too much to feature in one article, so if you’re interested in the subject, please do watch the webinar on catch-up.
For today’s piece, we’ve focused on two of the key threads in the event. First, we look at why men should become male allies. Of course, there are excellent human reasons to want everyone to be treated fairly – it’s the right thing to do, after all – but there’s much more to it than that. It makes sense for men to get involved because it benefits them as well and moves things forward for everyone.
For a start, research consistently shows the economic benefits of diversity. A McKinsey example cited by one of our speakers shows that companies with more diverse senior leadership teams achieve, on average, a 15% better return than other companies in their sectors. And this makes sense when you think about it, as businesses are locked in a battle for great talent. If some companies limit themselves to 50% (or fewer) of the potential recruits out there, those that look at the full 100% have a much better chance of finding people to drive their businesses forwards.
Companies with better gender balances also have much greater levels of innovation and they design better products that customers want – and that take into account the needs of women and children as well as men. This can literally cost lives when it doesn’t happen, as was seen with recent issues over PPE not being designed for female doctors and nurses, even though 77% of the healthcare workforce are women. And let’s not forget that customers and businesses expect diversity from the companies they work with and buy from. Diverse companies have much better levels of client engagement, which lies at the heart of winning and retaining business in much of finance.
There are more personal benefits as well. Research shows time and again that employees (both male and female) are happier in a more diverse and inclusive environment, with one study suggesting that staff motivation and company engagement can be as much as 1.5 times greater. Feeling included is just as important for men as for women and being an ally can play a large part in that.
So, how do companies encourage male allies? For our speakers, the place to start is at the beginning, with company inductions. These can set the tone for everything that follows. Then, it’s important to commit genuine time to training and learning about diversity. This doesn’t mean an obligatory course that everyone must follow but setting a level of involvement for people to meet, which they can choose how they do, including events such as our webinar.
It’s important to understand how women in your organisation are feeling, so you can communicate their experiences – and to make sure that any schemes are led by the business itself, so they have genuine leadership and accountability. And don’t forget to approach people and ask them to be involved – sometimes that’s all it takes to start the dialogue.
The value of getting men engaged is also clear to see, with research showing that for those companies that deliberately targeted men to be involved in the conversation, 90% felt their inclusion programmes were making a difference. For those that didn’t, the figure was only 30%.
We covered a lot more topics during the webinar, including the possible implications of home working on diversity, but we finished with some expert tips for anyone who wants to take action:
- Lead from where you are and lead by example
- Listen more than you speak
- Learn as much as you can
- Focus on the young – in the workplace and in the home
- Come together, so we can all do this together
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