How can Male Allyship Advance Women into Executive Leadership Roles?

career insights male allyship Dec 10, 2021

Male allyship takes courage. Men are often uneasy about involving themselves in diversity and inclusion efforts because they legitimately fear taking away that role and voice from their less-represented colleagues, or that they might say or do something that someone might misconstrue. Nonetheless, Many articles have been written[1] on male allyship and its role in helping women in majority male industries, such as technology, advance their careers while contributing to their full potential. Advancing Women In Product (AWIP) addresses the gaps we see in tech leadership roles that are filled by women and other underrepresented groups. We assert that male allyship is key to support, mentor, and sponsor women to reach their leadership potential. We are proud to showcase the male executives, along with their female counterparts, who volunteered for our AWIP Ambassadors Program, committing their valuable time to join forces with us and empower high potential female product and tech leaders through professional education and mentorship. AWIP is exploring what it means to be a good ally in the workplace and we have reached out to our AWIP Ambassadors to give us their thoughts. This year’s AWIP Executive Summit 2020 — Breaking The Cycle: Pathways to Ascending Leadership, featured a panel showcasing what successful allyship looks like in the workplace. We explored common myths and stereotypes encountered by male allies, and how to navigate them to create impact. To put our panelists’ thoughts in perspective, let’s first review some insights from AWIPs Future of Women Report 2019 to understand why male allyship is key to help advance more women into executive leadership roles.

AWIP’s Future of Women Report 2019 examines how confident women feel about their careers today, and what obstacles they encounter between them and their career goals. Our study shows that 67% of women in male-dominated workplaces lack confidence in receiving a promotion, as compared to only 5% of women in workplaces with more gender equality.


To equalize opportunities for women across different workplaces, support from male colleagues and leaders in the workplace is crucial.

Our report also finds that mentorship and sponsorship are critical for women to gain more confidence in their career and future. A combination of mentorships both internally and externally is said to be more helpful than one source of guidance.

As promised, here are insights on this topic from AWIP’s high-performing male ambassadors, who are unafraid to declare themselves an ally of women. We hope that their voices will encourage more men to become, and more women to ask for, male allyship.

Nehal Shah, Director of Engineering, Babbel

1. How important is it to be a male ally?

It is extremely important — not just in terms of building relationships with women and using social privilege to help achieve gender equality, but also in terms of leading by example and showing how diversity creates strength.

2. How do you think one could be a strong male ally overall?

There are three ways: mentorship, sponsorship, and evangelism. While inspiring, encouraging, and coaching women is very important, going to bat for them so that they step into more visible roles is just as crucial. And actively touting how diversity has made your team stronger and happier can change perceptions of what a great team looks like.

Fortunato Vega, Financial Advisor, Major Investment Firm

3. What does allyship mean to you?

What binds my allyship with an organization or individual is our alignment of interests and values. Depending on the development and strength of the relationship, my allyship can take the additional form of advisor, mentor, champion, and ultimately a sponsor.

4. What steps do you think men should take to help teams understand how gender influences the experiences of men and women in the workspaces?

The first step is listening and encouraging all to speak their voice. Listen for what’s different, not what’s familiar. Facilitate conversations and activities of empowerment that produce conditions for creativity and innovation while sustaining an environment of psychological safety.

Daniel Elizalde, Product Executive, and Coach; Former VP at Ericsson:

5. As a Male Ally, how important do you think is diversity and inclusion during hiring? What are some additional steps one can take to diversify the hiring funnel?

It is very important to focus on diversity and inclusion during hiring because hiring is the gate to any company and team. If you are not able to recruit diverse teams, then it’s almost impossible to create that diversity later on. Therefore improving the hiring funnel is key. Companies need to be proactive and do active outreach with organizations like AWIP to ensure their funnel is diverse. It can’t be an afterthought. As a hiring manager, our goal is to balance building the best possible diverse team. That is only possible if the pipeline of candidates is diverse so we can select the best candidate within a balanced pool. Unfortunately, most hiring funnels are not diverse and most HR teams do not have, diversity of funnel and hiring as a metric. Although the ultimate responsibility of building a diverse funnel lies with HR/Recruiting, it is our responsibility as hiring managers to push for that funnel. If we, as customers of HR, don’t push for that diversity, then it’s less likely to happen.

6. Are there specific takeaways from your company culture that have helped you become a better ally?

At my former company (Ericsson) we had diversity goals as a metric for all hiring managers. It is part of a push to change our culture and ensure we get more diverse teams. This culture change was present in all areas of the company, not only hiring. For example, we always aimed to have equal representation of men and women as speakers in events or panelists. We learned that if we don’t actively push for diversity in everything we do, then it just won’t happen naturally.

We appreciate our AWIP Ambassadors for sharing their insights! In summary, allyship involves: (1) listening to and encouraging women colleagues, (2) advocating for them when appropriate, and (3) proactive focus on diversifying the hiring process.

At Advancing Women in Product, our mission is to empower tech leaders through equality of opportunity in career advancement for both men and women. Through our pillars of skills-based training, executive mentorship, and advocacy, we work for our thought-provoking content for offline education for our 16K,000-member strong AWIP community of high potential female product and tech leaders, a pool of untapped talent that sometimes gets overlooked for greater responsibility.

For those looking to advance into executive leadership and for those executive leaders who desire to give back to the next generation, please visits, check out our AWIP resources below.

out our AWIP resources below.

  1. Join AWIP Presents: The Real-World Product Management Specialization

  2. About our AWIP Executive Summit 2020 — Breaking The Cycle: Pathways to Ascending Leadership

  3. Become an AWIP Member and join our exclusive Mobilize Community Members

  4. Apply for our Mentorship Program

  5. Join our AWIP Ambassador Program

[1] For one example, see