Booz Allen’s Courageous Conversations: The Role of Male Allies in the Workplace
In the fight for diversity and inclusion, men play an important role. In this third installment from the Courageous Conversations Video Series, Senior Engineering Executive Bob Miller talks with Aerospace Cyber Executive Holly Rollins about his ongoing journey to grow as a male ally to women in the workplace. Highlights follow.
A speaking panel leads to an “aha” moment
When Rollins asked Miller to participate on a panel about what it was like to be a male executive in the workplace, he did a lot of soul searching. “I’ve got to get smarter on this” he said. He started meeting with women on his team and asking about their experiences.
Miller also drew from conversations with his wife of 25 years, who is a biologist. “It was different for her, not being heard, having to fight harder than I had to.”
“A light switch went off,” Miller said. “I realized I had to do more. I had to change what my approach was if I was going to be a true champion.”
An ongoing challenge of awareness
“Your job as an executive is to surround yourself with the best available talent, and if you’re excluding half the population you’re not doing that,” Miller said.
He stressed the importance of not only recruiting with diversity in mind but creating an organization where every person’s skills are coveted and valued, everyone’s thoughts are heard, and everyone can thrive.
As a young person entering the workforce, Miller said he hadn’t always been in tune with how his female colleagues were being treated.
Today, he said, “I’m more aware than I used to be, but I’m not totally aware.”
An opportunity to lead by example
According to Miller, not only do male executives have to be aware of what’s going on around them, they also have to be open and transparent in their communications.
“If you want people to share what they’re feeling insecure about, it requires us as leaders to take some risks,” he said.
“You have to challenge yourself every day to be a change agent and do your part to make the environment the best it can be for everyone on your team.”