2023 ICAN: Male Allyship Advocating for Women

Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of YWomen,
will be addressing what male allyship looks
like in a breakout session at the conference.


Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of the corporate gender consulting firm YWomen, will present a keynote on the main stage and conduct a breakout session entitled “Engaging Male Allies: Moving From Awareness to Advocacy.”

Halter defines male allyship as seeing the need to engage women in the workplace as partners, which is done through visible and vocal support.

Halter said although this session focuses on women, its principles can be applied to any underrepresented group.

An Employees’ Market

There are 11 million job openings nationally.

“Employers are scrambling to get really talented people, and the best companies certainly want to keep their best and brightest,” Halter said. “This is compounded by the fallout from COVID.”

- Advertisement -

The workforce lost almost 1 million more women than men during the pandemic because they are not coming back to the workplace as quickly. The retirement of 3 million baby boomers each year has also deepened the employee shortage.

“The convergence of these trends is driving the demand for talent,” Halter said. “Many leaders have a conceptual idea of what the business case looks like, but they don’t necessarily have an operational sense as they would with any other type of business plan.”

According to McKinsey’s 2022 report, there are approximately 10 barriers to advancement facing women and underrepresented groups in the workplace today. Halter will highlight five of them.

“Sixty-four percent report a microaggression taking place on a daily basis,” Halter said. “If it happens once, it’s not that big of a deal, but for underrepresented groups it’s happening almost daily.”

Examples of microaggressions are interrupting a woman or talking over her, making eye contact with only men, taking more questions from men, challenging women’s ideas and questioning their data more than men, and mistaking women for someone at a lower level.

Underrepresented groups face the challenge of often being the only ones in the room. This happens 20% of the time for women, 45% for women of color, 37% for men of color, 70% for gay men, and 76% for lesbian women.

“This notion of being the only one forces these individuals to cover, so they can’t bring their whole selves to work,” Halter said.

According to McKinsey, women of color have almost three times as many significant workplace issues as white women.

Who Should Attend

The message is targeted to directors and VPs, but individual contributors are also encouraged to select this breakout session. Attendees will learn how to be allies within their sphere of control. Halter hopes men and women will attend.

“Most men believe this is a really good idea,” he said. “They understand the business case to some degree, but they don’t know what it looks like when they’re advocating for women on a daily basis.”

Individuals will learn how to take action on simple things like assuring that a woman’s voice isn’t talked over in a meeting. Directors and VPs will be asked to do more from a strategic standpoint.

“We really want men there to learn how to become better allies, but women can also learn how to go back to their companies and recruit what I call ready-now men—men who are already predisposed to wanting to help but don’t know what to do,” Halter said. “The key takeaway from this workshop is understanding the sense of urgency from this work right now, and that’s really around talent and the marketplace. But then it will evolve into what barriers women are still facing in 2023. People will leave with the actions they can take immediately when they get back to their workplace the very next day.”