Male Allies Lean in to Support Women and Help PNC Thrive

Sep 12, 2018 1:20 PM ET
W. Brad Johnson

"For an organization to succeed, it must be a workplace where curiosity, courage, confidence, caring and commitment are valued traits. Where allies are agents of change." — W. Brad Johnson

From senior leadership to frontline employees, everyone can function more effectively as allies in the workplace. As part of its Men as Allies pilot program, PNC invited W. Brad Johnson, co-author of "Athena Rising, How and Why Men Should Mentor Women,” to speak to employees about inclusive mentorship and the role of male allies in the workplace.

Why is inclusive mentorship important within an organization like PNC?

Organizations like PNC are in a battle for talent! Organizations that retain and promote top talent — both female and male — are more likely to thrive. In technology, finance, advertising and many other professions, women find fewer female role models in the field, and men are often reluctant — for a host of reasons — to actively and effectively engage junior women at work. When men lean in to the roles of ally and mentor for women, demonstrating awareness, commitment and gender humility, they stand to help level the playing field for women at work, encouraging female colleagues to achieve their highest potential. And when men develop excellent gender allyship and reciprocal mentoring skills, they benefit in a variety of ways while the company's bottom line soars.  

What role can male allies play to support women's professional advancement?

Excellent male allies for women are deliberate in fostering egalitarian relationships — not command and control, hierarchical or competitive relationships. Genuine allies are dependable and supportive in both personal interactions and in public behavior around the organization (e.g., willing to call out biases, harassment and disparities in things such as hiring, promotion and compensation). Excellent male allies practice cultural humility and demonstrate a learning orientation in cross-gender relationships. They keep an eye on their assumptions and gendered biases and blind spots, and they are careful about their own "manscripts" (socialized ways of interacting with women that might not be a good fit for the workplace).

Great gender allies are transparent about their mentorships, thoughtful about outside perceptions and vigilant to ensure that female colleagues have their ideas taken seriously, while making sure they get credit for their contributions.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your presentation?

I hope the PNC community will take away many evidence-based best practices for being intentional and excellent allies and mentors across gender in the workplace. I hope men will walk away with a sense of excitement about how to up their brand as inclusive leaders and colleagues for women at work, showing good gender humility, listening generously to female colleagues and benefitting themselves from the power of reciprocal cross-gender mentorships. I hope women will walk away with a clarified picture of what great male allies look like — that is, what they do in the workplace — and the powerful role women play in shaping positive male ally behavior and maximizing the benefit of relationships with male colleagues and mentors.

About Men as Allies

Research shows that strong mentorships are instrumental in the retention and promotion of women. Further, organizations that retain and promote top talent — across genders — are more likely to thrive. Launched in January of this year in partnership with the Forté Foundation, Men as Allies is a pilot program comprised of three PNC cohorts, in partnership with the Legal Diversity & Inclusion Council and Women Connect employee business resource group (EBRG) chapters in Kansas City and Chicago. Every six weeks throughout 2018, participants take part in workshops focused on building self-awareness, increasing gender acumen and applying ally best practices. 

Visit PNC’s Diversity and Inclusion website to learn more.