The Importance of Allyship: How Can Men Support Women’s Careers?

Gender equality in the workplace is still an ongoing issue in many workplaces across the UK.

Take these statistics from Business in the Community as an example:

  • Women earn 85p for every £1 a man earns
  • Women carry out, on average, 60% more unpaid work than men per week (e.g., domestic work and unpaid care)
  • Over two million women in the UK are paid less than the real living wage
  • Women only make up around 30% of senior management roles, and only 6% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies

Though many businesses are taking action towards greater diversity and inclusion in their organisations, there’s still a long way to go, and progress can be slow.

Much of this progress is moved along by allyship – but how exactly can men support women’s careers and positively contribute to gender equality in the workplace?

1. Actively listen and amplify

A key issue in workplace gender equality is that women can feel as though they’re being talked over, belittled, or undermined. 

This can often lead to hesitation around allyship, due to not wanting to be seen as ‘overtaking’ or taking ownership of the discussions.

Women are the experts in their experiences in the workplace and wider world, which makes active listening absolutely critical in allyship. 

Active listening means that you’re valuing women for their contributions and experiences and can advocate for them and amplify their voices.

If there’s an opportunity to let a female colleague weigh in on a discussion, interject on their behalf to let them into the discussion!

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2. Give credit where credit is due

Fairness means valuing everyone’s contributions to the workplace, and a big part of this is giving credit to women for the work they do.

Though a misattribution of credit might not seem like anything major in the grand scheme of things, for women in the workplace that already feel unheard and unseen, it’s just another issue contributing to gender inequality.

Advocate for their ideas in meetings and ensure you’re always attributing their name to their achievements and successes – a little acknowledgement can go a long way.

3. Call out inequality

The odds are that you’re very familiar with the issues many women face in the workplace, and you may have already participated in discussions and/or initiatives relating to gender equality in the workplace.

But what about in practice, in the moments when inequality is in action?

If you see a female colleague experiencing a microaggression, speak up and challenge the perpetrator’s stereotyping directly.

If your workplace is currently running initiatives, activities, or media relating to gender inequality, show your support by engaging or sharing their efforts.

Small changes over time can be cumulative and encourage others to do the same!

4. Take your support outside of the workplace

Advocating for women professionally is important, but as we said in the statistics earlier, a lot of gender inequality comes from women taking on the additional burden of housework and childcare alongside their career.

Rather than allowing these disproportionate responsibilities to continue to stack up, participate in the ‘behind the scenes’ work that often goes unnoticed to help share the load with the women in your life.

This also includes advocating for better work-life balance in the workplace, such as paid leave for all caregivers and flexible working hours!

Allyship is essential when driving for greater equality in the workplace, and we can all do our part to make a difference.

Offering equal opportunities to everyone will only further enhance the workplace, and we can all contribute!

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