How can business advance gender equality across the value chain by engaging men as allies?

Join us and a panel of experts for a live written discussion to explore how business can advance gender equality across the value chain by engaging men as allies.

Live Panel

Wednesday 11 September 2019, 16:30-17:30 GMT. ADD TO CALENDAR


No country is expected to achieve gender equality by 2030. The case for gender equality is clear with estimates that £28 trillion could be added to the global economy if women participated equally. Companies are now looking more deeply at ‘how’ to achieve gender equality across their business operations. This includes looking at the role of men.

Men have a critical role to play in advancing gender equality. Companies are in a unique position to engage men as allies in multiple ways - in the communities they source raw materials from, in their own workplace diversity and inclusion policies and in society at large by tackling gender stereotypes in advertising and communications.

Despite the clear need to engage men as allies, real world examples of how to do this in companies and communities are sparse. This online written discussion aims to shed light on the ways companies can and are pro-actively advancing gender equality by engaging men as allies.

We are bringing together experts to share their insights and experience. This discussion will be useful to you, whether you are from an organisation taking your first steps in trying to understand how to engage men, right through to those who have been expertly working on this topic for some time. You can expect practical learnings, real insight and peer support.


Pam Cornes, Director Social Impact, ABInBev

Katie Fergusson, Senior Vice President, Social Impact, De Beers Group

Marianne Cooper, VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, Stanford University

Fabio Verani, Senior Technical Advisor, Gender program, CARE USA

Nikki Van de Gaag, Author, State of the World’s Fathers report

Robert Baker, Leader of Diversity & Inclusion Consulting, Mercer

Chris Hook, Business Development Officer, Promundo

Daniel Seymour, Director Strategic Partnerships UN Women, UNStereotype Alliance

Moderator: Alice Allan, Challenge Director, Business Fights Poverty


  1. Why is engaging men to advance gender equality something that business should be thinking about?
  2. What are the best examples of business approaches and interventions to engage men as allies to advance gender equality across business operations from source to consumer?
  3. What are the major challenges to advancing gender equality by engaging men as allies and how can businesses collaborate with others to get it right?

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Hi I’m @Alice from Business Fights Poverty, ill be moderating this session tomorrow - but do feel free to start posting any questions now!


Hi All, I’m really looking forward to participating in the Online Discussion today

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Thanks @RobBaker, we will be kicking off in 1 minute!

Welcome everybody, please introduce yourselves panellists

Hello. I am an independent gender consultant and Senior Fellow at Promundo. Until earlier this year I was Director of Gender Justice and Women’s Rights for Oxfam GB, where I was involved in various corporate partnerships. I have worked on gender equality for the past 25 years in many different sectors. For the past 10 years I have been particularly interested in how men and boys can be involved in gender equality across all sectors. I have been an author three State of the World’s Fathers reports (MenCare). My books include Feminism and Men (Zed Press) and the No-nonsense guide to Feminism (New Internationalist). I have also written six of Plan International State of the World’s Girls reports. Looking forward to the discussion.

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Hi Everyone, I’m Robert Baker, Leader of Diversity & Inclusion Consulting in the International Region for Mercer, the Global Consulting Firm. I am delighted to be joining this Online Discussion, as I have long had a passion for gender equality. I have served on the Board of PWN Global, a leading women’s network / gender balance network for eight years, the latter two years as Co-President, with a specific brief to get other men engaged in gender equality.

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Hi everybody - I’m Dan Seymour, Director for Strategic Partnerships at UN Women (the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). We’re the UN focal point for all matters gender equality.

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Hi. I’m a sociologist at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University

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Good afternoon everyone, I’m Katie Fergusson and I lead our social impact work at De Beers Group which covers the social and community programmes, partnerships and standards within our Building Forever sustainability framework. This includes working with all areas of our business to integrate a strong focus on gender equality into our workforce, community and marketing programmes. Looking forward to sharing our experiences and learning from you all through this discussion!

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Hi everyone, I am a Senior Technical Advisor with the Gender Justice Team at CARE USA.

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Hi everyone, and hello to my fellow panelists. Thanks to BFP for hosting this important discussion. My name is Chris Hook, I work with Promundo-US, an organization whose mission is to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls, and individuals of all gender identities. I work on our engagement with the corporate sector, to encourage more investment in gender equality both internally and in social impact.

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I’m Pam Cornes, Social Impact Director at AB InBev. AB InBev is a global brewer with approximately 175,000 employees based in nearly 50 countries, and a diverse portfolio of over 500 brands.

Looking forward to the discussion today!

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Great, thank-you everyone - stellar cast! Now for the first question: Why is engaging men to advance gender equality something that business should be thinking about?

A1: There is substantial research and date to show that gender equality is good for business.
• Women bring in more diversity of thought and different perspectives which is good for responding to disruption and driving innovation
• Gender balanced teams have been shown to work more effectively and perform better than single gender teams
• Achieving gender equality enhances company performance for investors. For example, the Credit Suisse 3000 survey shows companies with gender balanced executive teams outperform by 3.5% a year!
However, when we look at the representation of women in leadership, we see that globally and across all industries 80% of executive positions are held by men. These men have the power and influence to commit their organisations to gender equality and to drive this throughout the company. Men are also the largest proportion of line managers and in these roles they can have a major day to day impact on the attraction, development and retention of women in the workforce. Finally, male colleagues can have a significant impact on their female colleagues in terms of supportive behaviours and remarks and by avoiding bias and “micro-aggressions”.
So engaging men at all levels in business makes complete sense!

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**Companies should be thinking about engaging men because otherwise they will lose women and men in the workplace. According to the Atlantic gender equality is an absolute priority for millennials. Furthermore Ranstad says that 80% of women would leave their current workplace for one with better gender equality. Microsoft refuses to work with partners and suppliers that do not offer employees a minimum of 12 weeks of parental leave. The values of the world are changing and if companies do not catch up to these trends they will lose out in the competition for the talent pool of the future.

The recently published World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018 ( states that at the current rate of change, it will take 202 years to achieve economic gender parity globally. We have to do something differently if we are going to accelerate progress. With men still in the vast majority of leadership positions across every organisation and sector, they make the majority of the recruitment, development and promotion decisions. We therefore, can’t make any significant progress without engaging men as an active part of the solution. Research by Boston Consulting Group also shows that among companies where men are actively involved in gender diversity, 96% report progress – compared to only 30% if men are not involved (

As well as this, greater gender equality benefits men and boys as well – they also suffer from, and can be limited by, gender stereotypes, men also want to spend more time with their families and have better work life balance, men also want to live in societies which are more peaceful and more prosperous.

Additionally when business is developing community programmes to support access to opportunity for women and girls by tackling gender barriers – for example at De Beers we focus on female entrepreneurs and STEM and leadership skills – we need to work with partners to think more broadly about the social context / norms and identify what additional support they might need to thrive and be successful, for example this may include engaging male household members in order to raise their awareness about the importance of sharing the childcare and other non-paid tasks as well as access to resources like transport to help them run their businesses.

Businesses benefit from a gender equal world in terms of their internal practice and workforce and in terms of their external markets and customers. That’s not a new observation. Gender equality can only be achieved through the full engagement of men, women, girls and boys. That’s not a new observation either. So this is just about putting these two observations together.