There is a large body of research demonstrating the positive impact of gender diversity and inclusion on workplace culture and financial performance. Building understanding, respect, and stronger relationships between male and female colleagues improves our working lives, productivity, access to sponsorship, and women’s career advancement. However, these gains are only attainable when men are allies in advancing women and actively engaged in recognizing and eliminating bias.
The Bentley Men of Alliance student group was formed with the mission to improve gender equality at Bentley and in the workplace. Inspired by what they had learned about gender diversity during the semester-long Center for Women and Business Fellowship, the founding members felt an imperative to engage more male students in the conversation.
The Bentley Men of Alliance is the first organization of its kind at an undergraduate level. Through discussion, programming, and partnerships, it supports and advances gender equality by:
• Actively supporting women’s groups on campus.
• Raising awareness about workplace gender equity issues in preparation for future workplace engagement.
• Investigating the impact of issues such as implicit bias, gender intelligence, confidence, workplace culture, generational impacts, and privilege.
• Sponsoring expert speakers from academia and industry to discuss the role of men as allies.
In the first year, the Men of Alliance made great strides in opening the gender equity dialogue to include men. The founding 10 members worked with several student organizations on substantive, educational events. Events included a men as allies roundtable, where male students openly discussed what it means to be an ally, and a perspectives event, where students with different social identities were paired and asked to share reactions to challenging scenarios. Participants described these events as “powerful” and “eye-opening.” The Men of Alliance are role models on campus and are demonstrating that gender equity isn’t just a women’s issue.
For over 100 years, Bentley University has been an institution dedicated to preparing the leaders of tomorrow. On our campus, two crucial elements of that preparation are: (1) creating a community of individuals with many diverse identities, and (2) sustaining an atmosphere of inclusion on campus, where everyone feels they belong and their unique identities are celebrated. Since joining the university as its eighth president, I’ve been proud to see the many ways differences are not only supported, but celebrated throughout our community. The recognition that every individual holds a unique perspective on the world is a foundational assumption of many academic disciplines and helps each of us to embrace new ideas. At Bentley, we have a longstanding tradition of embracing difference, and we are always looking at how we can encourage one another to improve. I’m proud of the work of our community and am thankful that Bentley is a place of both acceptance of diverse identities and advocacy for those who are often excluded.