Male Allies and Advocates:* Helping Create Inclusive & Highly Productive Technology Workplaces

Published on 02/29/2016

The NCWIT Male Allies and Advocates Toolkit is intended to support workplace efforts to engage male allies and advocates in diversity and inclusion initiatives. These tools are designed to equip change leaders in two areas: 1) Setting the stage for success and raising initial awareness 2) Developing a plan of action for male advocacy efforts and evaluating success.

Why Male or “Majority-Group” Allies?

Male or “majority-group” allies are key for successful change efforts in technology for at least two reasons.

First, to date, in technical organizations, men hold the majority of formal leadership positions, so they are often in a better position to make change — whether it be in subtle everyday moments or in changing larger business systems.

Second, increasing diverse participation is not a women’s issue or an issue that is only relevant to women and other underrepresented groups. Diversity and inclusivity are business issues, and they are human issues. People of all genders are held to restrictive standards around gender, racial, and other identities that limit their potential and the kinds of things they are able to do. Research also shows that businesses profit from diverse perspectives that bring innovation and company competitiveness.

Since these are issues that impact all of us, as well as the business, we should all come together to work on them. Additionally, recognizing the benefits of increased diversity to all employees dismantles claims that “special privileges” or “special help” is being given to underrepresented technologists.

What Should Men Be Advocating For?

In general male allies advocate for and work to create more inclusive environments or technical cultures that will ultimately benefit everyone. Avoid approaches that focus on “helping” or sometimes even “fixing” individual women. These approaches are not research-based and can come across as patronizing, even when well-intentioned. See our Critical Listening Guide for more information and for tips on avoiding approaches not backed by research. The Male Allies Stage 2 toolkit identifies concrete research-based actions male allies can take to advocate for changes in technical environments. Ultimately these changes will create workplaces that are more inclusive for all employees, not just women.


Raising Awareness Toolkit: Setting the Stage for Successful Male Ally Efforts

This toolkit provides resources for putting together an event or series of events to raise awareness about the role male (or other majority-group) allies can play in increasing diverse participation in technical workplaces. Start building a compelling presentation today using the Sample Male Allies Presentation.

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Action Toolkit: Strategies Male Allies Can Start Using Today (and Beyond)

This toolkit identifies actions that male allies (or anyone really) can take to accelerate change efforts and create more inclusive environments. For actions that you can start implementing today, check out the “Start Small, Start Now” section.

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Evaluating Your Male Ally Efforts

Want to know whether or not your male (or majority-group) ally efforts are proving effective? Use these evaluation resources to help you measure successes, understand challenges, and improve future efforts.

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Additional Readings:


* For purposes of this toolkit we use the terms ally and advocate rather interchangeably because both have strategic advantages and disadvantages depending on the organizational context in which they are used. For example, some of our team members felt that in their organization the term ally could be interpreted as a more supportive role, deemphasizing important actions that also need to be taken. Other team members felt that the term advocate could too easily be interpreted as men “helping” or “rescuing” individual women. Still other members prefer to use the term “majority-group” (instead of “male’) allies or advocates in order to highlight how we can all advocate for other underrepresented groups when we are the majority (e.g., white folks advocating for racial diversity).

We encourage organizations to carefully consider which term or terms work best in their own organizations. This toolkit also contains resources for being clear about what exactly male or majority group allies or advocates should be doing — in short, these efforts should not be about “helping” or “fixing” individual women or underrepresented groups but rather they should be about changing the environment and making it more inclusive for everyone.


We would like to thank our dedicated Workforce Alliance Male Advocates Team and Co-chairs, Will Harden (USAA) and Cameron Fadjo (Learnable), for making these resources possible.

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