Allies for Gender Equity

Brad Johnson and David Smith Show Men How to Be Good Guys at Work

On October 19, 2020, Forté will launch our first Men as Allies Inclusive Leadership Program. In a live, online classroom setting, Forté executives, along with expert authors and presenters, will show men how to stand up for women in the workplace.

Brad Johnson, PhD, and David G. Smith, PhD, authors of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Womenwill kick off the four-session workshop with an interactive keynote that provides actionable recommendations for building a culture of male allyship. They recently spoke with Forté about their new book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace.

Their first book together, Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, was published in 2016. As they toured to promote it, Dave recalls, “We were being pulled into more conversations about how men show up in the workplace in the various types of professional relationships they have with women — everything from just being peers and colleagues, to friends, to mentors and mentees.”  Those conversations inspired them to write a book that could serve as a how-to-guide for male allies.

Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace comes out October 13 from Harvard Business Review Press. In it, Brad and Dave explore two aspects of allyship: The first is about how men show up for women at work and how they hold themselves accountable. The second involves taking public action to advocate for gender equity.

Many men aren’t sure what their role is when it comes to gender equity, and that holds them back. Dave says, “These very well-intentioned men would count themselves as advocates, but they’re just not putting themselves out there and taking that step to take action, to make change, because at the end of the day, it’s really about disrupting the status quo of the world that we live in and that we’ve worked in for so long.”

Throughout Good Guys, Dave and Brad provide specific examples that show men exactly how to get involved. While Athena Rising offered a toolbox on how men can mentor women, Brad says, “Good Guys is this much broader toolbox about how I show up, how I engage relationally, and then how I disrupt and dismantle systemic sexism and bias.”

In the book, they talk about how gender equity starts in the home, something many men have become more aware of during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dave says, “A lot of guys may have been able to claim, ‘I didn’t really understand how unequal the division of household labor and childcare and everything else was in my family,’ but they damn well know about it now, because it’s all around them.”

When men are willing to do 50% of the work, it makes a difference not just for gender equity, but also from a parenting perspective, because the next generation is watching. Dave says, “Our sons, when they see us as dads being all-in, 50/50 partners at home, they’re seeing a more inclusive perspective of what gender roles look like, and they’re going to take that to the workplace with them someday… And then for our daughters, the research is really clear that for girls who have dads who are visibly doing their 50% at home, those girls are much more likely to stay in their careers, persist, and to reach their dreams, goals, and aspirations. They’re much more likely to go into nontraditional fields, like STEM, for example.”

Brad and Dave encourage men who are new to allyship to step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of educational opportunities like Forté’s Inclusive Leadership Program. Brad says he’d tell men who are hesitant, “What we’d really like is for you to show up and just learn and listen and hear about what it’s been like for women in the workplace.” He added jokingly, “If you’re still scared, there’s only one solution as a clinical psychologist — it’s called exposure therapy. You just have to expose yourself to what you’re afraid of. So this is a good opportunity for you to do that.”

Dave offered a reminder that allyship is a journey. He says, “We’re all in different places, and we’re all learning along the way. We have to be able to give ourselves also permission to learn, to acknowledge, ‘I don’t know everything about this, and it’s okay.’”

Each participant in Forté’s Men as Allies Inclusive Leadership Program will receive a copy of Good Guys. The book is also available for preorder.

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