13 Jan 2017
Students pledge to support female workers after graduation
London Business School students are pledging to support female executives in their careers through a recently launched ‘Manbassadors’ initiative. Part of the School’s Women in Business Club, the group aims to encourage both men and women to openly discuss issues of gender diversity.
Speaking in the Financial Times, second-year MBA student Harish Patel says he co-founded the initiative after seeing his sister struggle in her career following maternity leave, as well as findings from the 2015 WiB Conference.
“The hoops she had to jump through just to agree to have some time off to cover childcare, it just didn’t seem fair,” he says. “Our approach has been to educate men across the broad spectrum of viewpoints an MBA class can offer, ranging from folks that are disinterested to self-identified feminists.”
The Women in Business Club has developed a programme of activity to help equip students with the skills needed to be better business leaders when it comes to diversity, long into their careers. Events and activities range from informal lunches and fireside chats to dedicated skills workshops with training on topics such as implicit bias.
“There was a clear underlying feeling that a group like Manbassadors had a place on campus,” says Harish. “From the perspective of the Women in Business club and their student leaders, it was a tremendous way to begin shifting the paradigm and to find a way to engage both men and women on the issue.”
The initiative follows the creation of a dedicated Men’s Liaison role in the Women in Business Club two years ago. The Manbassadors group has invited students to pledge their support for the cause, and has attracted more than 350 signatures to date including the Men’s Rugby Club and the Men’s Football Club.
Historically there have been very few defined opportunities for men to engage in the conversation, says Harish. “We wanted to create opportunities for students to learn the skills needed to be a successful male ally, and promote the message of equality to fellow students.”