I Went to a Conference on Engaging Men. Here Are Four Things I Learned. (Blog Post)
I always struggle to answer the question of how I identify.
My first impulse response is very classic: I am a human being. But as a white man, I am aware of my privilege, and I know that I need to move beyond my comfort zone and be inquisitive about what I don’t know about other people’s experiences. Which is the very reason why I felt grateful to be invited to attend Galvanize 2019, a two-day conference held by Fairygodboss, the large online career community for women. This year, over 300 executives and ERG leaders were invited to discuss the theme of engaging men as allies. Here’s what I learned.
1. Men benefit from being allies too.
The first interview I saw was special. David Kenny, CEO and Chief Diversity Officer of Nielsen, was humble and heartfelt. Many of his insights resonated with me, including being an ally outside the company; making sure voices are heard and pulling them into the conversation, and being proactive in opening dialogue and receiving feedback. Kenny also touched on the “reciprocity of allyship.” In simple terms, he pointed out the benefits that men get from being allies. The positive ripple effects are immense for all. I loved his energy, his intentionality, and his openness.
2. Allyship is uncharted territory for many of us.
As a man looking for role models, I naturally paid close attention to male speakers and their perspective: allyship is a work in progress and uncharted territory for many of us. It is always both inspiring and insightful to learn from and connect with leaders that walk the talk in meaningful ways. We learn from one another by being vulnerable when telling our stories and actively listening to the stories of others.
That is one reason why I loved Will Post’s presentation: My Journey as a Male Ally. As Industry Manager, US Marketing Solutions, Facebook, his Ted-talk like speech was entertaining and incredibly insightful.
3. Companies are finding new ways to show their allyship.
I also enjoyed seeing Mita Mallick, Head of Diversity and Cross-Cultural Marketing, Unilever, present on Unilever’s ongoing efforts such as the #DearFutureDads campaign and Dove Men+Care pledge for paternity leave. Corporate leadership like this is so important to making progress.
4. There’s nothing like an inspirational leader.
I was engaged and learning every moment of my experience at Galvanize. I especially appreciated the closing remarks from Romy Newman, Fairygodboss President and Co-Founder. You can tell a lot about a company from its founder’s vision and energy, and she definitely knocked it out of the park.
Finally, I’d like to command Galvanize for picking engaging men as allies as the 2019 theme. This is indeed a key success factor for creating truly inclusive corporate cultures.
In 2019, male leaders in corporate environments must be intentional in both 1) taking an interest in the experiences of historically marginalized communities and 2) using their leadership, power, and influence to achieve equity through successful gender partnership.
Galvanize 2019 provided a platform for men to model what allyship looks like and for us to connect and share about our experiences. I left with many actionable takeaways—and I can’t wait to see the results.
Want to attend a workshop that bolsters gender equity? Check out Catalyst’s MARC events.
As Senior Director of MARC Branding, Ludo was responsible for developing and executing the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) brand amplification strategy. He acted as a voice for MARC to ensure the continued and growing recognition and strength of the MARC brand and the impact it represents. Ludo is also…