MALE ALLYSHIP: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Alvin Pilobello is a Leadership Coach and Trainer for technology company executive teams, and engineering professionals. He spent 10+ years in infrastructure engineering with global engineering consulting firms and led the Water Environment Federation’s student and young professional programming across the USA and Canada. His life mission is to create more compassion between people in the world.
Interview by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group.
This week I met Alvin Pilobello at Staples Studio in Kelowna, BC and we had a great conversation about allyship. Alvin is an advocate of supporting gender equity in the workplace, specifically in technology and engineering. This week, I thought it would be interesting to look into allyship from a male perspective and what it means in the technology and engineering industry.
I asked Alvin why he is an advocate for women and other under-privileged voices. “My parents strived to make a living in the middle of the Philippine people's revolution against dictatorship in the 1980s, and the Middle East Gulf War in the 1990s. Workplace discrimination was a reality in both their work lives, whether my mother earning respect as a female engineer, or my father earning respect as an Asian engineer in a hierarchical corporate culture. Through their mix of successes and suppressed opportunities, I grew up hearing stories of instances of allyship and lack of allyship, and how their voices were amplified or extinguished depending on the situation. My motivation is to help foster skills of allyship with anyone wishing to share the slices of privilege they have in their world, to elevate the under-privileged voices whose talents and humanity are not sufficiently acknowledged due to pre-determined physical, racial, or gender identities”.
Allyship is a critical component to creating equitable workplace cultures because it actively creates opportunities for people to share privilege, voice individuals' needs, and create stronger working relationships between people who think differently, and have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Not only is it the compassionate, human thing to do, having meaningful conversations around our diverse perspectives creates a culture of innovation, where psychological safety is established for people to feel safe to share and show up as themselves. The conversations that result in collaborative allyship are transferable to any team or organization that strives to be high-performing and engaging.
Most engineering firms are male-dominated, in management, shareholding, and in the C-suite. Alvin attended a panel discussion held by the Society of Women Engineers’ Toronto where women engineers shared their stories of success and the extra layers of challenges that women typically face in the engineering industry. As one of a handful of men in the audience, Alvin was there as an ally to learn more about the challenges women face in the workplace and what he could do to support them.
So what is Alvin’s vision for allyship? Alvin stated, “I am determined to promote a culture of inclusion in the engineering industry for women. I renewed my resolve to help create a more equitable, equal, and harassment-free workplace environment. I realized that anyone with privilege can be an ally for those who don’t have that privilege”.