Mission Statement Format
Not all allyship programs are the same, and so mission statements will vary. Here are a few ways to think about framing your mission statement.
Mission statements have two main goals: (1) communicate the purpose of the group to those who don't know what it is, and (2) provide direction for leadership and members on how to strategize and operate.
The best mission statements are short, clear, and concise. It can be tempting to make them long run-on sentences with semicolons and use stuffy and academic writing. Mission statements are like resumes: the goal is to give an accurate and compelling narrative that creates desire to learn more. The goal is not to fit every single thing you do or have ever done into a tiny space, which causes readers to become annoyed and fatigued.
Here’s an example of great mission statement in the box below.
The Manbassador program equips men to support gender equity on campus and in the workplace through education, reflection, and skill-building.
If people want to learn more, they can learn more – the statement raises good questions like “what programs do you specifically put on?” or “what does success look like”. You will want to have answers to those questions readily available via a google doc, website, written handouts, etc.
Here’s an extreme example of a long-winded mission statement.
The Manbassador program equips male-bodied people to effectively advocate for and provide support to women and gender fluid students and future colleagues in their company and personal communities; educates men to examine their own internalized conditioning as well as that of toxic masculinity and how larger systemic forces influence business and society; and impels men to action through hands-on activities, study groups, small group discussions, and skill-building exercises.
Note that the spirit behind this mission statement is awesome. But even minus the jargon, it’s too long to truly take in.
Mission statements set direction
Most allyship groups focus on education. Membership ranges from the truly enthusiastic to somewhat receptive. Programming for this group focuses on showing that gender inequity exists, educating on what causes it, suggesting actions to take to mitigate it, and providing opportunities to practice.
Some schools focus on creating dialogue. They've found it difficult to gain traction when framing their clubs as a "men need to shape up". Their mission statement might be: "The Manbassador program creates opportunities for men and women to have honest and compassionate conversations about gender dynamics on campus and in the workplace”. This group may be able to attract men who are less on board the gender equity train, which can be useful for more conservative cultures. The risk here is watering down the reality that the business world systematically disadvantages women and nonbinary folks, in order to reach out and placate those guys who believe that “the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction”.
A non-education mission might focus on supporting female classmates. Their mission could be “The Manbassador program supports women at our school through event support, networking, and pressuring companies to become more inclusive”. This allyship club would have an activist flavor and be comprised of dedicated allies. Programs would include supporting women's empowerment events (volunteering at registration tables, doing logistics and planning, etc), providing support to working groups that aim to increase inclusiveness on campus, doing childcare so that parents in the program can attend evening networking events, encouraging other clubs to have diverse speakers, and pressuring companies to become more inclusive by asking about their D&I efforts during networking and recruiting.
Though it’s theoretically possible to have a mix of these different missions in one statement, doing one of these things is usually as much as one group can handle. You’re an MBA student, not a full-time organizer. Pick a direction, clearly communicate it, and execute really well.