Reflections on Male Allyship
Updated: Aug 16
Table of Contents
Some people come into our lives for a moment, and others for much longer. Regardless of how long they stay, they always impact our destiny.
When observing the thoughtful, productive, and transformative individuals we surround ourselves with, we can see they have a village or a personal board of directors that influenced their lives. They serve as mentors, allies, and sometimes sponsors, regardless of their work industry. Their effectuation can be traced back to the fact that they had people in their lives who helped to remove negative thoughts about not being able to accomplish their personal and professional ambitions. They had someone in the stands cheering, rooting for them, which caused them to aim high, wanting to reach their full potential. They had people they could depend on with unwavering support. Individuals they could depend on when faced with defining moments and hard decisions.
In past blogs, I have reflected on the extraordinary impact, effect, and influence women mentors have had and continue to have in my life. For this blog, I want to share stories of the exceptional influence male mentors and allies have had over the course of my career.
I wouldn't be the person I am today without the men and women mentors, allies, and sponsors. I am grateful for them every day, especially the ones who decided to mentor me when I didn't think I needed the help.
The necessity of male mentors and allies
Various research studies have found that when male colleagues and leaders are unwavering about supporting equal opportunities for all genders, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, women feel more encouraged and have an increased sense of belonging in their teams and their organization.
Male allies who champion, develop, and facilitate this philosophy in the corporate world make it possible for women to trust, be respected, and stay more engaged in their work and organization. Likewise, they are more inclined to stay and grow their careers in companies that foster such inclusivity.
My experience with successful male mentors and allies
I was privileged enough to have mentors and allies who have guided and helped me meet critical hardships, difficulties, and challenges with rectitude, excellence, gracefulness, and gentleness, which I now always carry with me.
These are some stories of how male mentors and allies helped me meet those defining moments that have shaped who I am today.
I begin with the story of my best friend. He started as a male colleague at a previous organization I worked at, and over time he became one of my strongest allies at work, who looked out for me and provided me guidance and support when I needed it. For example, as we were working in a toxic environment, instead of disclosing to my coworkers I had to have surgery, I instead told them I was taking a vacation. However, I told him the truth because he was so supportive of me at work. In addition, he went above and beyond to ensure I was taken care of by bringing me groceries and checking in on me frequently.
He consistently showed up for me and cared about my well-being when I needed it the most. For example, when I needed to move to another state for a new opportunity, he drove long distances with me, helped me move my stuff into my new apartment, unpacked, and settled into the new place. Years later, when I needed to have another surgical treatment, he was there. He was the last person I saw before I was wheeled into the surgery room and the first person I saw when I opened my eyes. He was there the next day to help me walk around.
His consistent care and support are why I can share my stories and reflections on my product management journey.
My second male mentor came into my life a couple of years ago. He was invested in my success from the day I started my new role and helped me assimilate into my new environment by helping carve out a strategy to be efficacious. He taught me valuable lessons about how and why I needed to cultivate a relationship with everyone on my cross-functional teams, as they were invested and had a stake in any feature or functionality I planned to build with my scrum team.
He taught me how to be a compelling storyteller and get my stories to travel by having design drive the conversation with customers, cross-disciplinary partners, and leadership. More broadly, he helped me understand how to motivate my partner teams, align my KPIs to theirs, and learn the noteworthiness of sharing my product strategy and roadmap early on so that communications are enhanced to get everyone‘s buy-in.
Even though I no longer work with my second mentor, we still have weekly catch-ups where we exchange advice. After all these years of mentorship, I am thankful for his daily investment in my effectiveness.
My third male mentor of note was one of my cross-functional partners. From the moment I met him, we built a lovely rapport. Not only did he help me get immersed with the team right away, but I acquired many defining lessons from him. I also appreciate the frank conversation about politics, biases, and inequities in the workplace. Many of our discussions were about my future professional and personal objectives and the steps I needed to take to bring my dreams to fruition. Every time I did not get a promotion and wanted to give up, he was there to push me along and remind me that I needed to continue paving the path for others.
Other Mentors and allies
Many other male mentors, allies, and sponsors have molded me throughout my career. They have imparted lessons that I still practice today. Through them and their teachings, I discovered the art of negotiation and the fundamental skill of communication; how, while I may disagree with the determinations of my cross-functional partners, what should always be my foremost thought is that they have the best interest of our organization at heart, we may just all execute it in different ways. Those differences are what make all of us great.
These men also gave me the wisdom to understand the importance of coalition building and how to influence and lead without authority. This taught me that it is better to build consensus, galvanize, motivate, and build a coalition that I can bring with me on the journey to understand and solve customers’ ever-evolving problems.
I was supported and encouraged to ask for what I wanted and seek job opportunities and promotions I thought were out of my reach. As a result, I finally stopped being afraid to go after my personal and personal ambitions. This blog is a testament to this lesson.
Regardless of who you are, we all need mentors, allies, and sponsors to advance our careers. One lesson I discerned a long time ago was that I was limiting myself by only seeking mentorship from women. I later realized I needed people in my life with various viewpoints, assessments, and diverse lived experiences.
The male mentors in my life have been with me through the most effervescent and the most dejected days of my life. They have shared knowledge and insights when some of my experiences have been so daunting that I did not think I could persevere. When I have wanted to give up, they have reminded me of the impact and influence I could have. I can write this blog because of the people that have come into my life, some for a short period and others for a long duration. Regardless of how long they were in my life, they impacted my destiny, which I continue to appreciate daily.