Companies offer unique opportunities to shape and influence gender norms, given their often-expansive value chains—the range of activities they undertake from source to consumption to deliver products or services. A company can, for example, reinforce gender equality and women’s leadership in its workplace, consider women consumers in product design, support women farmers who produce raw materials in its supply chain, and tackle outdated gender stereotypes in its advertising.

Yet despite the opportunity, there’s little guidance on how to effectively engage men as allies to advance gender equality across the value chain. For this reason, four organizations—including the brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Business Fights Poverty network, the global humanitarian organization CARE, and Stanford University’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab—recently came together to examine this emerging area and provide senior leaders with some initial ideas for taking action. Our team collected information and insights from 30 interviews, including interviews with academic experts, nonprofits that specialize in engaging men, and human resources and advertising employees at companies already working to engage men as allies. We also ran workshops in New York and Oxford, as well as an online discussion and survey.

  1. Shifting Individual Attitudes and Behaviors
  2. Making Organization-Wide Commitments to More Diverse and Equal Workplaces
  3. Using External Influence to Shape Gender Norms

Engaging men as allies is by no means a panacea to achieving gender equality. Men must build on women’s efforts and organizations, not replace them; they must find and act on their own motivations for achieving gender equality. But effectively engaging men as part of broader, intersectional approaches to creating more inclusive workplaces gives businesses the opportunity to tackle entrenched power relations and create long-term, systemic change.

Read the full article about how men can be allies for gender equality by Alice Allan, Marianne Cooper, Pamela Cornes, and Fabio Verani at Stanford Social Innovation Review.