Gender Balance By Design
Exploring The Work Of Men4Change
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This article first appeared in Gender Balance By Design in October 2021.

Formed in partnership with our women’s network (WOW), Men4Change actively engages men and all allies across the organisation to encourage awareness, create dialogue, and instigate action to improve gender equity.

foundations

Men4Change started with five pilot offices in 2018 and as a result of high interest and successful early projects has grown rapidly to over twenty offices. Overall direction is coordinated by an eight-member global leadership team, with regional leaders and office champions developing and driving local initiatives.

“Being afraid of saying the wrong thing was stopping me from being an effective champion for an inclusive culture. Men4Change is helping to change that – both for myself and colleagues. Now, I ask for advice when needed and forgiveness if I say the wrong thing.”
Joe Fowles, Global Co-Chair, Men4Change

Activities

The network coordinates three main types of activity:

  • Internal engagement: workshops, mentoring programmes, speaker and reading series, and internal discussion forums
  • External engagement: collaborating with similar networks across Oliver Wyman’s clients and partners
  • Thought leadership: contributing unique perspectives on challenges regarding allyship and gender inequality

Allyship workshops

These are the gold standard used by Men4Change for internal engagement. Catering to between 20 and 30 attendees each time, the workshops use facilitated small-group discussions to talk through problematic or challenging scenarios encountered in the workplace. 

These workshops are designed to increase awareness on the importance of allyship, while offering a space to learn from others and develop the skills and needed to become a more effective ally.

By using a broad range of different scenarios, the workshops are also used to raise awareness of intersectionality and help participants understand and appreciate how social constructs interact to create complex systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

The workshops were developed in collaboration with our Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging team and Learning and Development team. Workshop facilitators and Men4Change team members from around the globe undertook internal and external training to gain understanding and experience, enabling the workshops to be rolled-out across offices worldwide (including the UK).

While originally in-person, during COVID the events have been hosted virtually, with the team deploying a suite of remote collaboration tools to facilitate. This latter approach has enabled greater connections across countries and cultures, which the team intend to leverage going forward. 

Challenges

While the Men4Change programme has driven significant progress in the area of allyship across the firm, naturally it has encountered challenges along the way.

One of these has been engaging passive supporters within the firm, who believe in the network’s message but have not historically engaged directly in inclusion and diversity efforts.

To begin addressing this, Oliver Wyman has started to incorporate Men4Change events as part of sessions that already have a captive audience – such as presentations during firm or practice group offsites and Men4Change panel discussions during all-staff calls. This approach is starting to pay dividends, and the network has found that once people have been engaged they are more likely to (voluntarily!) come again next time.

Key outcomes

The creation of Men4Change has helped to increase awareness of gender inequalities in the workplace and the importance of allyship, with a greater number of independent conversations on the topic happening at the firm.

The network’s intersectional approach has also enabled many to consider allyship beyond gender only, creating important conversations around other systems of discrimination and disadvantage. This has resulted in an increased level of active allyship in the firm, and another step on the firm’s journey to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment.

This initiative has demonstrated to Oliver Wyman that although diverse and inclusive workplaces can be difficult to create, the promotion of gender allyship and the engagement of male colleagues has the ability to drive real change.

Allyship can create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and allies can find ways to make their privilege work for others.