More than 100 MBA student leaders joined the 2021 Forté MBA Campus Leadership Summit to discuss leadership strategies and share best practices. In addition to Women in Business leaders, the virtual event included the leaders of male ally programs at top business schools. Nick Vachon, Co-President, MIT Sloan Male Allies, spoke with Forté about his biggest takeaways from the summit. Nick is pursuing a joint degree, earning his MBA at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) and his Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He worked in education at the start of his career, and says, “That gave me the initial awareness of all of the ways in which our society is comprised of systems that reinforce oppression and inequality. And the more I learned about those systems, the more it became clear how, as a white male, I've benefited from them.” He felt like he couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and support a system that unfairly benefits people like him. He says, “Constantly working to be a better ally is a moral imperative that I think every person should be working toward.” It’s good to have a space where you can connect with others, especially men, who are committed to allyship and who are actively trying to figure out what it means for them to become better allies. Nick decided to go to business school because, “I was very aware that most people work in the private sector, and the private sector has huge impacts on our communities. I felt like I needed experience in that sector to understand those systems and help make them more equitable.” Once he has his MBA, Nick wants to work at the city or state level, where the public and private sectors intersect, to support communities. He says, “Whether that's with education, public health, economic development, I’m interested in finding a place where I'll put down my roots and really commit to making that community a better place.” Exploring How Other Male Ally Groups Work The MIT Sloan Male Allies group is relatively new, so when Nick heard about the Forté MBA Campus Leadership Summit from the leaders of Sloan Women in Management (SWIM), he welcomed the chance to learn from other allies. He says, "Especially in the MBA world, where your whole leadership team is turning over every year, we're still asking a lot of questions like: What is our priority? What are the things we're measuring? What are we trying to achieve each year?" At the summit, he was able to talk with students from different MBA campuses who are doing similar work. He says, “It was a great opportunity to connect with other people and learn about what resources they have, so that everyone who's at a business school working to either create a new student organization or strengthen an existing organization doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.” It's easier to think about allyship and grow faster as an ally when you're with other people who are thinking about it, too. Before he graduates, Nick hopes to participate in more events that bring male allies from different schools together. He says, “It’s good to have a space where you can connect with others, especially men, who are committed to allyship and who are actively trying to figure out what it means for them to become better allies and also for them to promote allyship in whatever community they’re coming from.” Strategizing in Small Groups The virtual summit included breakout rooms where students swapped solutions for common challenges that club leaders face, such as attracting new members. Nick says, “There's low participation of men in gender-based allyship programs overall, so being able to talk with other men about why that's maybe a problem and what we can do to try to move the needle forward, even a little bit, is super important.” He also appreciated learning about the kinds of events other clubs had organized and what attendance at those events had been like. He says, “It was useful, as we're all club leaders thinking about what programming is going to look like next year. It was a good opportunity to hear what has worked and not worked at other business schools.” Looking back, Nick says the highlight of the summit was meeting male ally program leaders from Forté partner companies, like Josh Stewart, Senior Vice President, Director of Talent Solutions & Outreach, PNC. Nick notes, "It's easier to think about allyship and grow faster as an ally when you're with other people who are thinking about it, too." He encourages anyone who wants to learn more about allyship to attend events like this one and connect with people who may have different perspectives, experiences, and ideas about allyship. He says, "I think that's going to have more of an impact than staying in your own silo and trying to figure out the best way forward on your own." Learn more about Forté's Men as Allies work and our Inclusive Leadership Program.