iSpeak Blog

How Men in the Industry Inspire Inclusion and Position Themselves as Allies

Aaron Daniel Bober
How Men in the Industry Inspire Inclusion and Position Themselves as Allies

Aaron Bober is an active member of ISPE, the ISPE Women in Pharma® Boston Chapter, and the ISPE Women in Pharma International Steering Committee. He is based in the Boston, Massachusetts, area and serves as the Director of Engineering, New England, at IPS. Bober developed the below testimonial, recounting his personal experience and investment in supporting women in the pharmaceutical industry for International Women’s Day.

When I was asked about how men in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry inspire inclusion and position themselves as allies, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my journey and hopefully offer some perspective to an audience that men don’t generally share with.

The question you are likely asking yourself is: why was I asked to write this article? I can answer that simply by saying, I’m just a guy. I’m also a son to a mother, a brother to a sister, and also a father to a daughter. The last part is the most important.

The best example of a man inspiring inclusion and being an ally in my opinion is the father-daughter relationship. This is not to say that the mother-daughter or mother-son or father-son relationships are less than. It’s just different. This is relevant because my relationship with my daughter Layla was the first time I can say that I was purposeful in my effort to be an ally. You care for, protect, console, give the world, and would do anything in your power to make this world a better place for your daughter. You listen differently. You feel differently. You open your eyes differently.

My daughter Layla passed away on 27 January, 2019. The worst day of my life has led me to one of the most rewarding journeys of my life. I was fortunate enough to be her ally for almost 5 years. In my grief, trying to find a place where I could focus my energy and find my purpose, I stumbled across the ISPE Boston Chapter Women in Pharma Committee. I was apprehensive at first. I stayed quiet. For the first time I started to listen. I didn’t just hear the stories and the perspectives – I actually showed up with an open heart and an open mind.

This leads me to my first point: listen! Put your ego aside and don’t judge the female experience through our lens. Yes, we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. Personally, I’ve heard experiences and started to see them first person. How many times have you attended a networking event where a woman was held to a different standard than yourself or your male colleagues. In this example it took a couple male colleagues (allies) to “go to bat” for a female colleague over a situation that management wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at if it was a man doing exactly the same thing. So listen and maybe, just maybe, you will begin to recognize the need for more male champions both personally and professionally.

That leads me to my second point. As men, as fathers, as brothers, as sons…we can’t just stand on the sidelines. If you want to inspire inclusion and position yourself as an ally you need to think of it this way. If it was your mother/sister/daughter in the situation, how would you feel? How would you react? But most importantly how would you act? As a manager of people would you treat your female employees or colleagues differently than you would your mother/sister/daughter? I believe there is only one answer to those questions and it’s what guides me every day.

My last point is being an ally or inspiring inclusion doesn’t make you less masculine. It doesn’t mean you have to show up at events or write articles. You just need to live it every day. Know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. In fact, doing it quietly sometimes is the most rewarding. In a male-dominated industry, women need male champions more than ever. As a society we have made great strides, but we certainly aren’t perfect. Hold space for imperfection within yourself as well. It’s progress not perfection.

Learn More about Women in Pharma®