Sunday, 23 June, 2024

We Need More Conscious MARCs To Bridge the Gender Equality Gap

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Gender equality and equity is a WE issue and collective responsibility. Real progress requires men’s active participation as allies, advocates, and change-makers.

In this article, I expand on a point from my previous commentary – when unconscious bias is at the root of the inequity issue in the workplace, one step towards progress is more conscious men or MARCs – men advocating for real change. 

And MARCs are in need more than ever. 

  • According to the 2022 report from UN DESA and UN Women, equal representation in positions of power will take 140 years.
  • The Great Resignation and the Great Breakup continue as women leaders from corporate leave their roles at the highest rates in years.
  • The Tallest Poppy Syndrome whitepaper cites that male leaders are cutting down high-achieving women. 

It begs the question and sounds the alarm about real progress.

The progress report is a standing agenda item at women’s leadership conferences. At a recent event on gender parity, a panellist was asked, “So, what should women executives do to help other women.” Their response was a tweetable, “Nothing. It’s what male executives should be doing.” 

The research suggests a positive correlation between gender diversity and business results.

  • 96% of organizations make progress on DEI when men are involved, compared to only 30% when they are not involved.1
  • Women leaders improve financial performance metrics, de-risk firm performance, and improve CSR and ESG.2

Gender equality and equity make good business sense, but progress has slowed. It’s clear that a more comprehensive approach is needed to drive substantial change.

A catalyst for change – Meet MARC

Recognizing this need, organizations like Catalyst have developed innovative programs to involve men in the fight for gender equality. Their Engaging Men research series and M.A.R.C (Men Advocating for Real Change) program were born to bridge a research gap in understanding men’s role as critical agents of change.

MARCs are fully equipped, engaged and informed to bridge the equality and equity gap as full partners. We need more MARCs in organizations, communities, and at home. 

To the male reader, whether you are actively involved or notionally supportive, all change starts with self. Consider the action steps below to guide your journey as a conscious MARC.

Practical steps for conscious male advocates:

  1. Start with awareness:
  •  Check your unconscious bias at the door. The first step is to acknowledge that you are not immune to unconscious bias and that it can influence your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Use tools like the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure and become more aware of implicit biases.
  •  Develop your situational awareness and male gender intelligence (GQ). Situational awareness is having greater vigilance to gender dynamics in the workplace. Observe, ask curious questions of female colleagues, engage in generous listening, and address issues in real-time. 
  1. Transform awareness into consistent and intentional action:
  •  Educate Yourself: Engage in self-education on gender issues and intersectionality to deepen understanding of women’s challenges in the workplace.
  • Listen and Amplify: Create space for women’s voices. Actively listen to their experiences and concerns. Amplify their perspectives by advocating for their ideas and achievements in meetings and professional settings.
  • Mentor and Sponsor Women: Actively mentor and sponsor women in your organization. Provide guidance, support, and opportunities for professional growth. Champion their achievements and help them navigate career challenges.
  • Promote Equal Opportunities: Advocate for fair and inclusive hiring practices, ensuring women have equal access to job opportunities and promotions. Encourage diversity in selection panels and promote transparency in performance evaluations.
  • Address Workplace Culture: Foster a respectful and inclusive workplace culture by actively challenging toxic behaviours, sexist jokes, harassment and discrimination. 
  1. Serve as a MARC role model for other men.

Achieving gender equality and equity in the workplace doesn’t have to take 140 years. Accelerated progress demands men’s active participation as advocates for real change now more so than ever. The result is a win-win solution in which everyone is actively engaged and contributing at their fullest potential, regardless of gender.

Thank you to the MARCs in my life for your active and intentional allyship.



  1. Krentz, M., Wierzba, O., Abouzahr, K., Garcia-Alonso, J., & Brooks Taplett, F. (October 10, 2017). Five ways men can improve gender diversity at work. Boston Consulting Group.


Naomi N. Ali is the CEO of NNALI Consulting and a Conscious Leadership Coach. She is a certified Transformational Coach and Evolved NLP Master Practitioner/Coach. She combines a progressive corporate career in strategic communications, leadership, and change management to help her clients lead consciously. Her mission is to champion a conscious leadership movement to close the gender gap, shatter glass ceilings, and trailblaze for the greater good.

NNALI is a mission-driven consulting and coaching business championing conscious leadership so leaders and teams thrive. We believe conscious leaders nurture harmonious work cultures where inspired teams deliver exceptional business results.

Visit  to learn more.


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