Last month, senior leaders across Publicis Sapient gathered for a virtual panel to discuss male allyship with our mentorship participants. Our esteemed panelists, including Teresa Barreira (Chief Marketing Officer), Milind Godbole (Executive Vice President), Nathalie Le Bos (Chief Financial Officer), and Bob Van Beber (Chief Delivery Officer), each shared stories about mentorship and allyship in the workplace as well as its impact on their personal lives. What became abundantly clear is that none of our panelists rose to the top alone – they had supportive, mutual, and trusted allies and mentorship relationships that helped them along the way. While nobody can provide a perfect roadmap to becoming a better ally for colleagues, our panelists did provide some great advice for how to get started:
1. Build mentorship relationships on trust and mutuality. Who acts as the mentor or mentee at any given point can be fluid, and shift based on the day and the topic – we can all learn from each other, no matter the role. And trusting each other in that role requires a certain amount of vulnerability; both men and women need to be unguarded with one another to build trust.
2. Listen and seek others’ perspectives. Ask your colleagues for their perspectives, and earnestly listen to their responses. This will help to build a more comfortable and vulnerable team space where people are willing to share their true feelings. This will also open the door to understanding and embracing one another’s unique and mutually beneficial points of view.
3. Reduce the onus on women. To reach gender parity, the responsibility for creating an equal playing field cannot solely rely on the efforts of women. Men must also take a stand, believe in it, speak up, and make room for women, especially knowing that in our industry, men are oftentimes the only voice in the room.
4. Know that becoming an ally takes time. Effective allyship is a muscle that can be strengthened through confronting your own upbringing, environment, and thoughts, and then understanding your role in the gender parity issues at hand.
5. Consider small ally actions to start cultural shifts. No gesture is too small in the quest for allyship. Address everyone by name and ask specific individuals for their opinions – even the quiet ones! These small validations can go a long way in acknowledging underrepresented groups and changing the culture of a team or company.
6. Be wary of self-imposed biases. Be aware of your internalized biases and be open to seek or accept help from both men and women allies.
7. Hire more women. Change the environment from the ground up – hire more women.