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Male allies a key pillar of sustainable progress


Tuesday 20 December 2022

Male allies a key pillar of sustainable progress By Roseann Kelly, CEO of the W Group.

In all the conversations surrounding gender parity and equal representation in the workplace, there’s a tendency to focus solely on women. As though somehow the onus falls on female shoulders to break down existing barriers and actively close any gender gaps across pensions and pay. 

The reality is far more nuanced. Only by involving women and men together can we work towards creating a fairer and more prosperous workplace. What we need is the support and allyship of men to not only call out bad behaviours, but to encourage and platform female colleagues to reach their full potential, both personally and professionally. 

Collaboration is the key on our quest towards a truly inclusive economy. The business case for gender diversity has been long documented. A recent report by PwC found Northern Ireland’s economy could unlock as much as £2.3 billion if the number of women in the workplace was increased to the same level as the UK’s top performing region. 

An incredible benefit for what is, essentially, equal representation between males and females at any table, boardroom or otherwise. On the other end of the progress bar, and proving the inherent economic opportunity in gender parity, a UK-wide report from McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above average profitability.

This is the potential windfall when career progression and workplace opportunities are not exclusive – or at least biased – to any one gender. When attitudes and behaviours of male colleagues don’t conform to what has come before, but instead are forward-thinking and actively contribute towards a shared future of equality. 

If you are reading this as a man, you may well ask yourself: how do I get involved? How do I support my female colleagues in a way that is genuinely enabling, and not patronising? How, in essence, do I become a visible male ally to those around me? It’s a good question. 

Visibility is surely key, as it has the dual impact of both amplifying female voices and setting an example which other male colleagues can follow, be that calling out sexism or reflecting on the privileges you’ve enjoyed purely because of your gender. In so doing, our allies and partners can make conscious decisions in the workplace that help sow the seeds of sustainable, long-term change. 

That can also take the form of acknowledging and supporting female colleagues to inspire trust and respect or putting in place company-wide practices to create inclusive leaders. At Women in Business, our network openly celebrates male allies and advocates. We welcome men to our leadership and mentorship programmes to help foster a new-look workplace where everyone is on an equal footing from the moment they step through the door until the day they retire. 

Because if the issues and conversations around workplace equality involve all genders, then so too must the solutions. Equality for women is progress for all.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

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