Allyship and Every Man's Connection To A Woman in Pt. 3 of Allies In Action


This week in Pt. 3 of "Allies In Action",  Rachana asks our male ally business leaders talk about how having a natural relationship with a woman in their life has reinforced and strengthened their positions as allies and at what degree they open up their personal experiences to their fellow CEO's, co-workers or peers.  They discuss bringing heart and stories in to male ally efforts as well.

Today's post (video to the left and transcript further below) concludes the "Allies In Action" panel that took place at the Better Man Conference 2017 - Engaging Men As Allies where Rachana Bhide of Bloomberg and Founder of The Corner Of The Court Project was joined by Jon Murphy, Sr. Dir. of Sales Operations at Blue Shield and Co-Founder of the Manning Up for Gender Inclusion Program along with Jim Wunderman,  President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a CEO lead public policy and advocacy.

If you would like to read through or listen in on the full series, the first 2 parts of the series can be found here along with a bonus blog focused on moving through fear men sometimes experience when exploring how to show up as an ally:

Pt. 1 Allies In Action - Gender Equality - How These Men Advance It At Work

Pt. 2 Allies In Action - Study: 74% Of Men Afraid To Get Involved In Gender Equality

Bonus Blog -  For Men Who Want To Be Allies: Moving Through The Fear - Personal Commentary by Ray Arata, Co-Founder of Inclusionary Leadership Group and Founder of Better Man Conference

Rachana Bhide:

I want to go back to something that Michael Kimmel talked about this morning which I talk a lot about, unconscious advocacy.   That's basically what came out of my research at Columbia University which is that men play natural roles as allies. Michael Kimmel said that every man has a genetic connection to a woman.   Can you talk a little bit about how having a daughter in just this example or any other connection you have to a women through natural relationships has reinforced and strengthened your position?

Jon Murphy:

When I was approached a year ago by HR, right about the same time I was talking to my wife (who is also here today) about our daughter Megan.  She does like circus arts believe it or not of all things. I had no idea; but she does the ribbons and flips and contortions and all kinds of stuff.  So, she's in a leotard and she had come home very upset about her body because a lot of the other girls in the circus arts happened to be thinner than her and she's nine or ten years old at the time.  

It hit me with a ton of bricks that the responsibility I have raising a daughter is beyond just food, shelter and...I do coach her softball but it's more than just coaching her at softball. I have to show her how to have confidence and be empowered and be comfortable.  At the age of ten she loves life so much she shouldn't have to be dealing with body image issues. It was just really eye opening for me. So when HR approached me I had all this passion and frustration and this was like a perfect outlet that just kind of fed right into it.  They've created a monster, I'm on fire.

Jim Wunderman:

My wife couldn't be here because she's a clinical psychologist and she works with  refugee populations and the gender issues there are well ingrained.  I'm fortunate to have somebody to remind me at home every time I step out of line. But she's here in spirit. It was wonderful raising two daughters, Monica and Ally, they're great.  I think I was aware of the issues intellectually and academically of the challenges that girls face growing up. So I thought I and her mom and our family did everything we could to reinforce them in positive ways.  And I think it paid off and they're incredible people.

My younger daughter, Ally, started work in some of the tech companies.  She worked for Google and she worked for Autodesk and for a while she worked for a startup in which there were eleven employees and one woman, her.  She faced a lot of stuff and it was pretty tough on her for that. That was the case where it kind of hit me in the heart in what she was going through and I just wanted to take those guys and teach them a good male lesson and so forth.  But eventually she left the company and moved on.



I have two boys who are twelve and thirteen, so this is an interesting age in the way boys feel about girls in middle school and some of the things that they say.  So it's been really instructive and interesting to be the father of daughters and their sisters to remind them when they say stuff and do things that it's really important for them as young men to empower their sisters in school and in life and be in every way the allies of the girls who are part of their lives and not in any way try to take them down or do some of the things boys have a tendency to do at that very tender age.  It's been a wonderful balance seeing both sides of that.

Rachana Bhide:

To what end to you bring in your work with Manning Up in the forums (gestures to Jon Murphy) and maybe even with your work in some of the 275 CEOs you work with (gestures to Jim Wunderman), to what degree to you bring up the heart? Both of you spoke very openly just now with a lot of feeling. Does that come up when you have your discussions?


Jon Murphy:


Yes, that's where we start.  The storytelling, it’s all about you have to be vulnerable.  I talk about my daughter just to set the tone for the other men in the room because a lot of them are kind of stiff, they're thinking, "What's going on here?"  The other thing I made the mistake and which was brought up earlier is that I tried to do this with just men talking about it and within a week I had so many articles sent to me on how that was the wrong way to approach it. We course corrected quickly.  That's how Angela got engaged. But yes, it all starts there and when you go around the room you learn about these people I've known, a lot of them for fourteen learn a different side of them and then when you have the conversation it comes from a place of more trust and openness and you can just have a more real discussion about it.


Jim Wunderman:

For us, it really started with making the business case because I needed to get the board on board to do this work.  There were folks on the board who wanted to do it but there were some who were concerned that it would take us off course and that kind of thing.  And some of those people were women by the way, who felt that way or felt they should say that. When we had that initial debate about it, for a little while it was all talking about the business case but it morphed and over time it really has been a discussion that can be about business but it can also be about feelings, it can be about experiences, it can be about the stories that people like John are telling about what is happening in the various companies and it's very, very diverse.

Rachana Bhide:

That's great.  Thank you both so much.  In the interest of time, we're going to move on.  I'd like to close by saying Manning Up For Gender Inclusion at Blue Shield and a breath of policy legislation and has a lot of resources.  Look what can happen when men care and do take a proactive stance.   Thank you both so much for your time and for all that you do, and have a great rest of the day.

Audience Applause

Jim Wunderman:

Thank you so much.  It's been a real pleasure, thank you.

-End of Allies In Action-

Contact [email protected] to learn about INCLUSIONARY LEADERSHIP training, GENDER PARTNERSHIP training, COACHING or CONSULTING for your organization.


Better Man Conference 2018: Call To Speakers, Panelists, and More

We invite business professionals, concerned citizens, expert practitioners and allies to share their voices for the 3rd annual Better Man Conference. We are securing dates and locations soon, but looking forward to these timelines/locations:

  • BMC San Francisco- October 26, 2018 (Application deadline August 15th, 2018)
  • BMC New York- November 6, 2018 (Application deadline August 15th, 2018)

We expect 150+ people in NYC and 250+ in SF. Previous registrants were 60/40 Men/Women and included:

Better Man Conference 2017

Better Man Conference 2017

  • Executives, Leaders, Emerging Leaders, Change Makers.
  • Human Resources, Diversity Staff and Council Leaders.
  • Learners and Leaders seeking workforce inclusion.,

The conference theme, STAND UP. SPEAK UP. IT’S TIME. is intended to educate, inspire and move male allies into action in support of women and target groups. Given the context of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the focus of The Better Man Conference is on galvanizing men inside organizations by providing them with the tools to support partnership and the role that healthy masculinity plays.  Learn more or apply here.


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