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Having male allies in leadership positions at work makes a sizable impact on the career advancement of multicultural women, according to a report from the Working Mother Research Institute. A higher percentage of multicultural women with male allies received a promotion, a pay increase or a new assignment in the last 24 months than those who didn't have male allies, according to the findings.It's up to HR to work with men to make them aware of how they can champion multicultural women and to help multicultural women understand their responsibilities in seeking workplace allies, said Subha V. Barry. Barry is senior vice president and managing director for Working Mother Media in New York City.Working Mother Media released the report, The Status of Men as Allies for Multicultural Women, in May. Findings are based on a survey conducted in November and December 2016 with 1,181 black, Asian-American and Latina women and 753 were white women and men of all races. Among the men, 255 were in middle-management level positions. All respondents were college educated.The report was commissioned for the 15th anniversary of the institute's recognition of the Best Companies for Multicultural Women. Respondents were employed full time in salaried fields other than education, retail and health care. The survey findings show the impact male allies can have on a multicultural woman's career advancement. In the 24 months before the survey was conducted, multicultural women with male allies were more likely than those without male allies to have:
Men as Workplace Allies
"When men serve as allies for multicultural women, powerful things happen," Working Mother magazine editor-in-chief Meredith Bodgas said in a news release. "The survey shows that the women who felt men in leadership care about their advancement correlated not just with feelings of satisfaction but also with tangible career progress for women of color." More than three-fourths of the men surveyed—executives, middle and front-line managers, and nonmanagers—said they were comfortable being an ally for multicultural women.So what action can men take? Being a sponsor or mentor would help, according to nearly three-fourths of the multicultural women surveyed. However, white men—who make up 75 percent of executives in S&P 500 companies—are most likely to mentor or sponsor other white men, the report found. Multicultural women were overwhelmingly mentored or sponsored by other women. Among men who served as mentors, only 19 percent did so for multicultural women.[SHRM members-only thow-to guide: How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative]
That low percentage can be attributed to several factors, including a fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, Barry told SHRM Online."It becomes a bridge too far" to cross, she explained. "We're so afraid of what can go wrong … we allow [the desire to be] great to get in the way of being good."She advised HR to coach white male managers to be candid with multicultural women about that fear. Reach out to the men who are doing a good job recruiting and developing women and ask them to extend their efforts to multicultural women, Barry recommended, and meet regularly with the men to review their efforts. Having these individuals be champions for multicultural women enables them to serve as role models for others in the organization. Other ways men can be allies:
Steps Organizations Can Take
Some ways organizations and HR can help encourage men to serve as allies:
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