Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace

Book Review by: Steve Heck, CIOCAN Board of Directors

Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace

This book is a must read for both men and women, especially for those who want to make a meaningful impact, on not only gender equity and diversity, but to improve diversity in all its forms. Spoiler alert… the skills of a great ally are transferable to all relationships with anyone outside of the group with whom you identify. It’s truly a diversity super power for everyone and anyone who is willing to develop them.

“Good Guys” offers a clear and compelling explanation of the underlying issues that have led to unwelcoming and unfair treatment of women in the workplace and outlines what male allies can do to help create a welcoming, high-performance environment. Authors David Smith and Brad Johnson help men to acknowledge and take ownership of today’s workplace that was created by men, for men, to do men’s work. Decades of time and generations of men perpetuated norms, behaviours and assumptions deep into the workplace. These dynamics created an unbalanced environment for women (knowingly or unknowingly) for female colleagues as they join men in the workplace.

Smith and Johnson offer compelling reasons as well as clear and actionable things that men can do as allies to remove the unfair dynamics and give women a chance to reach the potential that they aspire for themselves.

A central point and compelling bonus for me being a strong ally, is that not only does it make a critical different to all the women supported by an effective male ally, in doing so, male allies demonstrate great leadership to everyone around them, both the men and women. Male allies more potential than their non-allied male colleagues. Male allies have access to better information and they inspire higher levels of performance. They are also more aware of their limitations, blinds spots and unseen opportunities because they also have the reciprocal benefits that come from the support received their female allies in return.

Men who feel that by supporting women takes away opportunity are those who are most in need of a deeper understanding and appreciation of the issues.

This book in an important read for both men and women and is hopeful a tipping point to the creation of a critical mass of men and women entering into relationships as allies.

[End Note]

A closely related book that also warrants visibility in this conversation is Please Stay: How Women in Tech Survive and Thrive – Debra Christmas and Kelly Irwin. This is a very complementary and timely book which helps both men and women better understand what it’s like for women in today’s environment and what is required to keep them in the IT industry. Men should make it a priority to read both to ensure they have a well-rounded and informed perspective on this issue.