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The Rise of Male Allies

When Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey CEO and husband of Sheryl Sandberg, unexpectedly died in 2015, the women of Silicon Valley were deeply saddened. Not just because they had lost a well-regarded executive, a father, a husband, and a friend, but also because he had been a very public and proud male ally.

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“Male allies” men who support gender equality have become all the rage in Silicon Valley. Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, won fans when he pledged $300 million to ensure diversity for the company’s workforce by 2020 225 When Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy, famous for their notoriously sexist Super Bowl ads, joined the company in 2012, he immediately put an end to the company’s sexist advertising.226 These are just two of the many senior leaders who are taking action to support women.

Consider the former vice president of corporate quality at Cisco Systems, Rich Goldberg. He recently left his company to devote his career to the issue of diversity and inclusion. In 2014, while at Cisco, Rich and a colleague launched the Cisco Men for Inclusion group. Enrolling key male stakeholders across the company in the steering committee, they hosted awareness trainings and workshops, asking participants to take a public pledge to make a difference.

“We wanted to create an allies network that was visible so others knew we were men who supported women,” said Rich. Soon his passion for the issue convinced him to change careers, and now he is currently a Fellow at Stanford University’s Distinguished Career Institute working in close partnership with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

Rich said, “It takes courage, the willingness to step out of the norm, and the humility to recognize your own role in the problem. Here’s the thing. I’m a grandfather. If we men don’t engage in this issue, nothing is going to change for the next generation.”

These men and the hundreds of thousands like them who are standing up on behalf of women are also standing up for families. Not just for mothers, but for themselves. Take Max Schireson, ex-CEO of MongoDB. In a very public blog,227 he announced he was stepping down from his post so he could spend more time with his children. It wasn’t that well-worn euphemism for being fired. Rather, he was the first male tech leader to boldly say he was pausing his career for family. As men become more comfortable revealing their deep engagement as fathers, we’ll likely see more and more men, too, working, pausing, and thriving.

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