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Male allies: The support needed in the fight for gender equity

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The fight for gender equity in the workplace has been making progress for the last 50 years through the introduction of legislation and the spreading of awareness. However, progress could be made easier if men spoke up on issues.

The participation rate of women in the Australian workforce is 62.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the participation rate of men is 71.3 per cent. This shows the voice men have in the workplace, and without using this voice, progress toward gender equity can stall.

“For so long in gender diversity work, it’s been women talking to women about women. And it was certainly like that back in the day,” said Megan Dalla-Camina, founder and CEO of Women Rising.


“But we still to this day see so much of this work being done by women to create more inclusive workplaces where everybody belongs. And the role of male allies who are in most industries and in most organisations, the ones who are in the positions of power and have the privilege to be able to really make an impact, we need all of those men involved in this conversation and this work.”

Ms Dalla-Camina notes that men want to incite change, yet many don’t know what to do. This is an opportunity for workplaces to encourage participation in the discussion of issues, whether through initiatives or training.

“Very high percentages of men say they want to be part of the solution. So, it’s not like the men are sitting over there saying, we don’t have work to do here. But what we also hear from men is that they often don’t know what to do. And they’re worried about doing the wrong thing,” said Ms Dalla-Camina.

“It can be a very charged environment, particularly after the #MeToo movement. There are a lot of men who are [saying], I’m going to step back, I’m uncomfortable being in rooms alone with women, I’m uncomfortable travelling or having a meal with women. This is a very real challenge for a lot of men.”

This is where collaboration and conversation can shine and make a difference. Education on issues is a great first step as it teaches people about the issue and opens lines for discussion and problem solving.

Ms Dalla-Camina commented: “We’re all on this journey together. It doesn’t need to be divisive; it needs to be inclusive and collaborative. And we’re seeing that through our male allies’ work and our male allies’ program that men want to be in here and women want the men as part of the solution as well.”

“When it comes to women’s leadership, when it comes to moving the dial on targets, real numbers, moving us to gender balance, bringing more women into leadership, that we need to get to the next level of men being part of the solution and supporting men so that they know what to do, they’re comfortable doing it. And we’re all working towards the same goal.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Megan Dalla-Camina, click below:

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.