The adage ‘behind every great man, is a great woman’ was coined in the 1900s, when women’s considerable efforts to support men in business and other endeavours often went unrecognised. Now it’s time to share that podium with those great men who now support the great women in their lives and encourage others to do the same. In my experience, it’s this support that has partly enabled me to develop my career, moving into the underrepresented ranks of being a female CEO, in one of the world’s largest digital performance marketing agencies.

The Great Cheerleading Man 

I’ve been lucky to have great cheerleading men throughout my career. They have publicly acknowledged and celebrated my successes, shone light on potential I didn’t even know I had, partnered with me on lining me up for their succession, and have been fast to offer referrals for new opportunities. This type of allyship is priceless. 

When representation is lacking at the senior levels, knowing you have someone backing you and ensuring you’re not overlooked is critical. 

There’s an opportunity for any man reading this (hoping I’m not writing to an echo chamber here) to think about who the hugely talented but potentially overlooked individual in their workplace is, and how you can become a cheerleader for them. Maybe shouting about an achievement or by feeding back to their line manager or straight to the top on why they deserve recognition. 

At Reprise we have a platform to facilitate these shout outs, we celebrate the recognition weekly and have monthly awards. It’s a small gesture but can go a long way for that individual. Cheer pom poms are optional.

The Great Man of Justice 
The bystander effect is the idea that individuals are less likely to go against the grain and help someone being poorly treated in the presence of other seemingly like-minded people. It’s this passivity which has enabled many inequalities to develop. Saying or doing nothing can be just as harmful as the act itself.

In the workplace this can look like work being credited incorrectly, non-inclusive comments, micro-aggressions and the list goes on. These behaviours are even more damaging when an under-represented group is involved. 

I am a big believer in what we tolerate we promote.

Great men don’t stand by, they call out bad behaviour (even when it may be unpopular to do so), they trust the lived experience of the person brave enough to mention bad behaviour and they avoid falling into trap of “I can’t imagine that person doing that,”therefore it must be an overreaction”.

At Reprise, my male peers believe in equality and doing the right thing, they actively work to reinforce this. Whether it’s through situational awareness - effectively stamping out sexist-leaning language or behaviours - or through self-education to increase their knowledge of the gender inequalities still rife – I appreciate their endeavour, which raises us all. 

The Great Family Man 
The biggest drawback to women’s careers can be the choice to have a family. This is unacceptable. While much must change to reverse this, the choices made by businesses and the men within them are critical to ensure women can continue to pursue career ambitions after welcoming a new addition to the family, if she so chooses.

One example lies in the form of parental policies. At Reprise we recognise the importance of offering enhanced paternity leave. With two months provided at full pay and active encouragement to take time away to focus on their families, Reprise dads are set up to support their family from day one.

Reprise also offer a flexi-leave policy, with unlimited days to ensure parents can be available to support their families. These policies are changing the archaic workplace biases that have historically held great women (and great family men) back.

I am personally blessed to have a hugely supportive husband and father to our three-year-old. We split the care giving and I couldn’t do my job without that support. Importantly he is also leading by example in his business to role model that caring for a family is everyone’s responsibility. 

Great men push for policy change and lead by example, normalising care giving behaviour to inspire the next generation of great men supporting great women. 

Finally, let’s not forget the pivotal role women play in supporting other women. We were delighted to sponsor MADFest’s Female Leaders Bar - a first for the event and an incredible way to celebrate the inspiring abundance of female business owners, pioneers, mavericks, and rising stars making an impact today. It was an invaluable way for us to extend our own allyship – sparking stronger community ties and enjoying some proud cheerleading of our own.

In the race to inclusion and equity, having men visibly and actively advocating for change is going to help us collectively be our greatest selves.