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The Importance of Male Allies at TfL

Category: Industry News, equality, workforce, employees, meeting, committee, issue, representative

The Importance of Male Allies at TfL

I remember when, over what is usually our banal breakfast chat, I told my partner I was attending my first Women’s Staff Network Group (WSNG) committee meeting that day where I work at Transport for London (TfL). It was not well received. I had previously stood in solidarity with her over several women and equality issues but, this was a step too far. I was imposing myself on a safe space, one which women had created for themselves. She argued that I had no business attending and I would only further entrench existing inequalities. The two things we did manage to agree on was that women did not need men to speak for them and that I had most certainly burned the porridge.

 At TfL, women make up 23 per cent of the workforce. This is not representative of the diverse metropolitan capital it serves and the question is where does the onus lie in redressing this imbalance? What is the role of men in the conversation around gender equality? If we are 77 per cent of the work force, what part can we play? This was my main motivation in joining Graham and Nathan, my co-conspirators, in forming the Male Allies group. The group works under the umbrella of the Women’s Staff Network Group (WSNG) and offers male employees at TfL a way to actively get involved in tackling gender inequality. Some have argued that it is a redundant group, a mere duplication - why can’t men just join the WSNG instead? I see some sense in this argument and, in a perfect world, it is a redundant group, but the truth of the matter is that not enough men are visibly involved in gender equality at our organisation.

 I believe in the inherent goodness of people and I think most men would be willing to get involved in order to help make a difference. Some men may ask if it doesn’t affect you, why should you care? The simple fact is that it does. A diverse workforce is a happier and more productive environment; many more learned folk have long asserted that in numerous studies.

 In the future, the TfL Male Allies group will be obsolete, but until that day, I hope it creates a platform for which men feel they can actively start to participate. What can we start doing now in the Male Allies group? For a start, we want to start influencing what we have labelled the 4Rs. Recruitment, Retention, Respect and Reward. These are the levers that could lead to equality. We need to recruit more women into the industry and continue retaining those who are already in it, respecting and recognising the work that they already do to keep London moving, working and growing, and are rewarded for it too. 

 The Male Allies will be bringing men into the conversation in a productive and open-minded way. This is a crucial step to actually making progress on issues of gender inequality. Before significant progress can be made, there needs to be a willingness to simply show up at the table and listen.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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