Becoming A Male Ally

02 November 2023

An investigation by UN Women UK recently found that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed, and almost two-thirds of young women have been sexually harassed at work according to a TUC poll.

Men play a crucial role, both in and outside of the workplace, to help reduce these statistics. Men who are actively supportive are known as male allies, they are integral in educating others, raising awareness, and preventing sexual violence and harassment.

By law, employers must do everything they reasonably can to protect staff from sexual harassment at work, however, that shouldn’t stop individuals from doing their part too. By becoming a male ally, also commonly known as an active bystander, men can equip themselves with the knowledge and awareness of when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choose to challenge it by safely intervening. This can be in either physical or verbal situations, where it could be unsafe for a woman to get involved.

On 18th October we hosted an informative training session with the Hollie Gazzard Trust, equipping men in the District with the knowledge and understanding on how to become a male ally, both at work and in their personal life.

The Hollie Gazzard Trust was founded by Nick Gazzard, following the murder of his 20-year-old daughter by her ex-partner. Nick has dedicated his life to helping protect people from abuse and was instrumental in developing concepts including Hollie Guard, the only personal safety app endorsed nationally by UK policing, that provides enhanced levels of protection through alerts, tracking features, and timers.

The training was extremely well received, with attendees learning when and how best to intervene in tricky situations, including phrases they can say to help defuse tensions.

Alex Tross, Partner at Carter Jonas and Colmore Business District Board Director, said: “The male ally training session was highly eye-opening and educational. The session was essential in understanding the different ways men can become active bystanders and the impact that it can have on the community.

“I’d like to thank Colmore BID’s Special Projects Officer, Paul Street, for organising the training, and for creating an inclusive, informative space for men in the District to learn.”

Nick Gazzard, the Founder and CEO of the Hollie Gazzard Trust, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Colmore BID and work with them on enhancing safety initiatives. As a Trust, we have a strong focus on community safety and saw a natural fit with Colmore BID, given their approach to date.

“The male ally training session was a great success. It highlighted the importance of becoming an active bystander and the difference men can make to every-day scenarios that women face.”

Over the last twelve months working with the Hollie Gazzard Trust, we’ve launched a new Supporter Organisation Ambassador Scheme to educate employees in the District about sexual harassment and domestic abuse issues and the available safeguarding help. The Supporter Ambassador Scheme provides not-for-profit organisations with advice and training opportunities for staff members, a subscription to HollieGuard – the UK’s largest personal safety app, and the Hollie Gazette, a news, guidance and information e-newsletter.

We are committed to making Birmingham’s Colmore Business District an informed, safe, and secure area for women who feel represented and heard. Our security team operate throughout the working week and is well-trained and equipped to tackle incidents of misogyny. They work hand in hand with the West Midlands Police, providing a detailed knowledge of the area, its businesses, and its people.

We also host a Women’s Safety Forum, which facilitates an inclusive, influential, and collective female business voice on matters affecting women’s empowerment and perceptions of safety across the Colmore Business District. The Forum’s objectives include raising awareness and educating businesses on Violence, Abuse and Intimidation of Women and Girls. This has been delivered through hosting practical workshops, themed events and separate awareness sessions on projects happening in the District, promoting the Forum and campaigns on social media, and generating up-to-date online resources.

Kate Bailey, Colmore BID Board Director and lead of the Safe and Sound Working Group said: “No one should feel scared or vulnerable to go out alone. This is why it was essential for us to create the Women’s Safety Forum and for us to launch training like our male ally sessions, as we want to provide a space to empower people to discuss safety.”

Poonam Gill, chair of the Women’s Safety Forum and Women’s Safety Network, said:  

“The Women’s Safety Forum has been instrumental to the District – delivering themed events, networking opportunities, and sharing important safety updates.  

“We recognised how important it was to launch a new group that anyone could join, regardless of gender. Following on from the male ally training, we encourage all those who wish to share thoughts regarding safety and want to know more about initiatives in Birmingham to join the network. Only by working together and sharing collective knowledge can we make the city a safer space for everyone.”  

Looking forward, our BID4 plans include a number of safety ambitions for 2024 to 2029, which are outlined in our BID4 Business Plan. These include increasing the security patrol team to facilitate working later into the evening, continuing our popular personal safety classes and male ally training sessions, and launching a new resilience alert system to immediately share critical information about safety matters and public emergencies.