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Impact Stories

Forté Impact: Henry Frost

During his second year of graduate school at the University of Virginia, Henry Frost had an eye-opening experience. While attending Forté’s Inclusive Leadership Program, he learned about Forté’s Men as Allies program.

Lightbulb moment

Henry, who is getting a dual MBA and Masters in Public Policy degree, was impressed with Men as Allies’ mission to increase awareness among men about the systemic biases women face in the workplace and how men can play a part in building a more equitable environment.

When Henry left the event and returned to campus, he was struck by how immediately in the classroom he saw the gender dynamics he had just learned about. “I could walk through the world with my eyes open or closed,” he explains, and he chose to keep them open by launching a Men as Allies chapter on the UVA Darden campus.

 

Every interaction with Forté has been a constant learning process.

 

Taking action

Taking action wasn’t without hurdles, and apathy was chief among them. “The challenge of getting men involved falls into two camps: on one hand there is the ‘woke generation’ who thinks we are already inclusive and don’t need to put in more work, and on the other hand some are fighting against political correctness and believe we have gone too far,” he explains. Henry has encouraged both groups to keep their eyes open, and he also got to work.

With support from Forté and UVA Darden’s Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), Henry and his colleagues:

  • Launched a “lunch and learn” series to bring men together to discuss top-of-mind issues and build reflection and awareness
  • Created a male allyship conference that was attended by 140 members of the Darden community, and featured a Forté workshop and a keynote address from gender scholars, Brad Johnson and Dave Smith
  • Considered developing an allyship program across several graduate business schools

Darden’s Men as Allies group is structured as a working group that reports directly to GWIB, and it comprises half first-years and half second-years to allow for continuity. Men cannot join the working group without a nomination from a GWIB member. This decision underscores the Men as Allies’ “goal to engage and activate men and support women at Darden,” Henry says.

Henry has been inspired to hear Men as Allies’ members come up with ideas and embrace the mission. “It’s easy to be a pessimist sometimes, and it was wonderful to be part of those conversations,” he says.

Constant learning

Henry agrees with Forté’s stance that achieving gender equity is not just a women’s issue – “everyone has a role to play because gender equity affects everyone,” he explains. As an analytical person, Henry also appreciates that Forté takes a pragmatic approach: recognizing the problem, clarifying the reason behind it, and offering solutions. “Every interaction with Forté since day one has been a constant learning process,” he says.

Even though he is set to graduate and will start a new job at Harris Williams in 2021, a Forté corporate partner, Henry has no plans to stop.  “I see allyship as a continuous pursuit. There is not a line in the sand when I move to the professional world,” he explains.

He also sees allyship as a commitment – not just something to do when it is convenient. “If you drop the ball when things are hard, you are not being an ally,” he says.

To men who may not know how to begin, Henry recommends, “Approach with an open mind, be humble, and recognize that there is always room for growth and opportunity.”

 

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