Be a Better Male Ally.
Yes, to Women. Or Indeed, Anybody

We recently shared some everyday tips for allies with Joe Dunn, who’s working on a new book, “How Not to Be An Asshole At Work.” As you might imagine, we’re rooting for an entire chapter on how to be a better ally. Perhaps the following post is indicative of exactly that.

Be a Better Male Ally
Yes, to Women. Or Indeed, Anybody

by Joe Dunn (Originally published on Joe’s blog.)

Some people have it harder than you at work, particularly if you are male and they are female. (This is just true. Get over it. And, yes, there are many other permutations of this dynamic involving class, color, race, sexual orientation and a few thousand other ways people are different from each other).

Our defaults tend to be to a) not notice the ways in which the dynamic is true and/or b) kind of notice but not do anything about it, at least partly because we’re not sure what to do about it. We therefore passively behave like assholes: letting a bad situation just bump along.

@betterallies pointed this out to me at lunch the other day, and then followed up with a list of practical ways of being an ally at work. Easy, simple and moves you far from assholery. Check it out:

  • Pay attention to when a woman (or anyone for that matter) gets interrupted in a meeting, and redirect the conversation back to her. A simple, “I don’t think Ana was finished making her point. I’d like to hear what she has to say,” will do the trick.
  • If you notice someone who manterrupts frequently, pull him aside after a meeting and point it out. He may not realize he’s doing it.
  • When a meeting wraps up, chances are a swarm of custodians won’t arrive to clean up the mugs, drink containers, or left over lunch food. Open your eyes, see the mess, and start cleaning it up. Don’t ever assume the women will do that for you. (Even though many of them will.) If you’re in a rush to get to your next meeting, find another guy to do the housework. A simple: “Hey Joe — could you bring the left-over pizza over to the kitchen on your way out? And stick a note on the boxes to let everyone know they’re up for grabs.”
  • If someone brings up a good idea you’ve heard before, either in the same meeting or in an earlier one, point it out and give credit to the originator. Say something along the lines of: “I like that idea a lot. In fact, when Ana brought that up last week in our 1-on-1, I learned the following…”
  • If an underrepresented person points out sexist, racist, or any kind of lousy behavior, listen to them. Believe it happened. Don’t get defensive. And get more feedback about your culture. Ask, “What’s one thing we could be doing to create a more inclusive culture?” Then act on their feedback.

Those are just a few practical ways to be an ally at work that we shared with Joe. We’ve got lots more over on our Twitter feed. And we bet you’ve got ideas, too. Tweet them with the tag @betterallies. We’d like to hear from you.

And if you’re intrigued by the title of Joe’s forthcoming book “How Not To Be An Asshole At Work”, sign up for all posts and early drafts of the book here.

Becoming an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

Together, we can — and will — make a difference.

Everyday actions to create inclusive, engaging workplaces. Together, we can — and will — make a difference with the Better Allies® approach.

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