Capital One, the McLean-headquartered bank that increasingly defines itself as a tech company, is really interested in supporting gender equality in tech. The company recently partnered with Angel Hack to produce a series of women-in-tech demo days, including one in D.C., and continues to place an emphasis on celebrating its own female tech talent.
It was based on this interest that Capital One founded its own internal Women in Tech initiative (WIT) with chapters in Capital One offices around the country. But gender diversity, Capital One soon found, is not all about women. It was a wonderful thing to bring the company’s women together to learn and share, but it wasn’t enough.
"In any scenario where a minority group is working toward equality, the partnership of the majority group is crucial to reaching parity faster."
So, in late 2015, Michael Wisler and Jennifer Manry started Capital One’s Male Allies program. According to Wisler, the Male Allies program is an excuse to bring all of Capital One’s technologists together to raise awareness about gender diversity in tech and share experiences. “It’s a place where we can begin to have the conversation,” he said.
Practically, the Male Allies program integrates well with the established WIT network. “WIT Chapters have formed across our sites where women technologists have the opportunity to engage in a variety of ways from training and hackathons to volunteering and mentoring,” Manry told Technical.ly in an email. “As a part of each Chapter, there is a Male Allies leader and members that attend and support the local events.”
Conversations about diversity and inclusion can be delicate, but it’s important to have the right stakeholders in the room. “Male Allies isn’t about men charging in to save the day or to make it ok to be a woman in tech — it’s about men showing their support and being a part of the solution by being an ally,” Manry wrote.
“In any scenario where a minority group is working toward equality, the partnership of the majority group is crucial to reaching parity faster,” she said.
Amen to that.