10 Leadership Actions Male Allies Can Initiate Now to Advocate for Women

An Invitation to be a “Good Guy”

My work focuses on engaging “Ready-Now” men to engage in advancing women. I know many women in the workplace wonder, “Where are all the men – guys who could lean in as genuine advocates, accomplices and full conspirators in removing obstacles to gender equity?” Where are the male allies and advocates?

It’s well documented that women face numerous disadvantages in the workplace. I also have found that many men want to help but simply don’t know what to do on a daily basis to demonstrate advocacy for advancing women.

Into this landscape, my colleagues David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson recently published their second book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace.

In a nutshell, they write that the key to advancing gender equality is Men.

I couldn’t agree more strongly. Engaging men is the critical element to advancing women and creating gender equality within organizations.

Men still hold nearly 80 percent of the leadership roles in many companies, and we will never drive long-term systemic advancement for women without the active engagement of men. Men hold an advantage within most organizations.

In Good Guys, David and Brad have written a research-based guide for how to be a male ally to women in the workplace. I reached out to ask if gender equality is crucial to an organization’s future — and it is — then how do leaders demonstrate allyship and implement strategies to fix systems and outcomes?

The authors contend that organizational change starts with leaders (particularly men) and leadership teams, and they share 10 essential strategies to help level the playing field and support women at work:

  • Design clarity, transparency and accountability into your workplace. Be clear about the purpose of gender equity initiatives and transparent in communicating what they are designed to achieve, while establishing accountability for yourself and others.
  • Be clear about your expectations and then set the example. Plainly communicate how gender inclusion and diversity relate to your purpose, intent and values as a leader, and keep them connected to your business outcomes.
  • Purposefully use your influence. Use your positional power to overcome resistance to organizational change and demonstrate your support and expectations for others to support gender and inclusion events.
  • Be intentional in attracting diverse talent. Examine your company’s digital and print media for diverse, respectful and healthy depictions of women and men and review educational and training content for inclusion of diverse experiences.
  • Connect women’s initiatives to leader responsibilities. Integrate gender and inclusion initiatives with leader development training and mentorship programs and hold leaders accountable for achieving these goals as a business outcome.
  • Put policies and practices in place to stop sexual harassment. Be clear in your messaging that you do not tolerate sexual harassment and encourage and support victims and bystanders.
  • Create flexible work options that allow everyone to thrive. Acknowledge and support employees’ lives outside the workplace by placing realistic boundaries on time at work.
  • Carefully assess your parental leave policies. Establish formal company policies for paid family leave and conduct a formal review to ensure that they are having the desired effect and being used.
  • Create external accountability for your organization. Do not sponsor or participate in conferences without equal representation of women or do business with companies that don’t have at least 30 percent of board members or C-suite leadership who are women.
  • Get pay equity right. Set transparent hiring and salary criteria and conduct annual pay audits in your company.

These ally actions are best practices from organizations that care about creating a culture of allyship. It starts with support and commitment from senior leadership that sets the example for other leaders to embrace.

What can you do? Invite “ready-now” men into the conversation. If you are a leader take action on the 10 items outlined above. If you are a member of an employee resource group, work collectively to invite men in. Finally, if you are the only (or one of the only) women on a team, buy this book and give it to the one guy (or maybe two) who you believe could be allies for advancing women. You may quickly find out there are more men out there who want to help.

Jeffery Tobias Halter with a copy of "Good Guys"


Congratulations again to Brad and David on the publication of their new book. Let’s keep this conversation going and continue to invite others to take action as allies and advocates.

Here’s to Good Guys – #goodguys