Updated: Aug 28
Three things you can do to help your male allies help you as you grow in your career.
If you are thinking "I don't really have any male allies in the workplace". Where you'll want to start is reaching out to some people in your workplace to start to get to know them better and as you are having conversations with them, you can quickly learn who is looking out for themselves, who wants to help lift you up in the workplace as well, what's important to them in the workplace, etc. And as you're building that foundation of a relationship with other people that you work with, you start to recognize who is looking out for you and therefore they can be an ally to you. The relationships with your male allies look different for everyone.
There is reciprocity in those relationships and it can be very helpful and beneficial to have our male counterparts stand up for us in ways that maybe we aren't able to do as loudly or as confidently. This is why you're going to communicate what you need from them in that working relationship.
1. Start talking about salary.
This is something that might make you feel uncomfortable when you first start approaching the conversation, but if you have some men in your workplace who you feel really comfortable with, approach the conversation and say, "Hey, I am working towards closing the gender pay gap and I'm realizing that starts with me. And I don't know exactly what that gap is here at this organization or at our level if I don't know what some of my counterparts are paid. Do you mind sharing what your salary is or what your hourly rate is?"
Come from a place of understanding, you're not looking to go to HR and complain because this specific person is making more than you. You're approaching the conversation to get curious and say, "Hey, I would like to know who is making more than me as well as who out of our team might be making less than we are?" What does that look like? What are the skill gaps or differences as to why someone might be paid more?
Work to understand the "why" behind people's pay and assess from there. Get curious so you can advocate for yourself when you go to ask for your next pay increase.
2. Ask your male allies how they approach different topics.
Questions you can ask:
How do you confidently share your opinion in a team meeting? What got you to the point of feeling like you can share your opinions even when you go against the popular opinion of the group?
You raise your hand so quickly when a new project comes up, how did you get the courage to jump in so fast?
How do you approach the conversation about asking for a raise?
How do you set boundaries around work/life balance?
How do you say no to something you don't want to do because it's not one of your strengths?
The goal here is to remain curious and understand their thought process and compare it to yours. Are there any pieces that feel familiar with how they felt and how you feel? Do you think you can get to a place where you can raise your hand faster or speak up more often in meetings? What does that look like?
3. Share how your allies can specifically help you.
This might look like having a conversation with your male colleagues and sharing with them how they might be able to invite you into a conversation in a group meeting or sharing topics you are confident in where they can ask for your input in a group setting.
Having clear communication will help in the effectiveness of your male allies. As you are working to lift yourself up, you are looking to lift others up in the workplace and you are communicating how these male allies might be able to help you, think, "Where could I use a little bit of help in the workplace? And who might be able to help me with that?" That's who you're going to approach with that conversation and say, "Hey, I love that you are so confident when we go to these networking events. I wonder if I were to come to one with you and I had someone who I might be interested in meeting, would you be willing to introduce us? Is that something that you'd feel comfortable in doing, because that's something that I lack a little bit of confidence in approaching." They might say absolutely, yes no problem or they might say I don't know what that might look like but we can try it out and see how it works.
If they help, you can give them feedback. As you build these relationships, you'll find the ability to give feedback that much easier.
If you are looking for ways to prepare for future leadership roles, you'll want to check out the Future Leaders Program where you can learn the soft skills needed to stand out as a leader before you get promoted, helping you to be more prepared to step into and grow into your first leadership role.
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