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Advancing Women's Leadership

Male Allyship Is Essential on the Path to Advancing Women’s Leadership

When women leaders are supported, organizations succeed. So why is there still a gap in the number of women in leadership roles? While women make up just over half of the Canadian population, they continue to be underrepresented in professional leadership positions.[i],[ii],[iii] This doesn’t only affect women and society, but also has business implications. Research shows that companies with leadership diversity and gender equality perform better.[iv]

Male support, or allyship, is key to creating a culture of diversity and belonging. Recognizing the importance of male allies at all levels in organizations fosters an environment that helps to break down the barriers to inclusion and advancement. Using their influence, men can advocate for their female co-workers to ensure they have a seat at the table, their opinions are heard, and their contributions are seen.

Empowering female leaders

One organization that recognizes the importance of male allies is Women Leaders in Pharma (WLP). The group, which brings women in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries together to empower one another, pursue change, and remove barriers for future leaders, understands that male allyship is crucial to reaching those objectives.

“Joining a female-focused organization, it was important to me that I not lose sight of the men who had been an important part of my career growth and journey,” notes WLP Board Member and pharmaceutical executive Thea Discepola. “In fact, being part of an organization so focused on empowerment has allowed me to pay homage to the men who have contributed to my success and to pay it forward to women aspiring to reach new career heights.”

Actions, not words

There are many ways men can learn to become allies — including giving credit, listening, calling out inequalities, respecting women’s space, avoiding using diminutives, sharing parenting duties and taking parental leave, sharing office housework, and, of course, advocating for women at work.[v] The ideal case scenario to achieving progress is when men are part of the process.[vi]

Being an ally isn’t the same as being a friend — it’s about men standing up for and aligning with their female colleagues with the end goal of equal opportunity. “I don’t think you need to have a close relationship with people who you act as allies for. You can be an ally to someone you don’t know depending on the actions and behaviours that you engage in when interacting with that person or people around that person,” says Chris Cummins, General Counsel at GSK , and who recently spoke to WLP about male allies. “And of course, action is key. If there’s no action, the intent is irrelevant.” WLP believes the health care industry benefits from balanced leadership. Representing over 400 members nationwide, WLP strives to live our mission by sharing our experiences, to impact change, and to achieve our best as leaders in and around the pharmaceutical industry

To listen to our WLP podcast on Men as Allies, go to womenleadersinpharma.com/podcasts. And to learn more about this empowering organization or join, visit womenleadersinpharma.com.

Be part of the change.


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