Small Group Conversations


Small groups discuss gender dynamics, current events, hot topics


  • Introduce men to topics of allyship and gender equity
  • Increase club visibility
  • Recruit active and dedicated members
  • Provide opportunities for those who want to get involved
  • Provide resources for those who want to learn more

Theory of Change

  • Men need a safe space to openly discuss gender for fear embarrassment, judgment, and hurt reputation and to ask sensitive and awkward questions
  • Men need a period of time beyond large trainings, public discussion forums, and team activities to engage on this topic in more depth
  • Men need inputs (articles, scenarios, etc) and structure (facilitator, equity advocate) to push their thinking forward
  • Through engaging with this topic in this atmosphere, men will reflect on some of their beliefs, update their thinking, and gain some practical ideas and skills to be a better ally.


Costs and food

Food and drink help drive participation. Food can be done a few different ways. Option one – the allyship group reimburses the hosts for meal costs. Option two – individuals pitch in $20 to their host who will take care of dinner. Option three – participants bring food to the dinners potluck style.

Target / likely audience

Enthusiastic to receptive men will likely come to one of these.

Location / Participation Size

These are often done in people's homes. You can also reserve rooms if that's more convenient. Either way, having privacy is important for the sensitive nature of the topic.

The idea group size is around 6-10 participants. Each group would have two leaders: one facilitator, and one equity advocate.

It's common to have multiple simultaneous groups going.

A/V Needs

You may want a projector and/or amplified sound to watch a video or listen to a podcast snippet as a group

Other resources needed

Potentially you'll want to send out articles ahead of time to seed the conversation, knowing that a significant percentage won't have gotten around to reading them.

Roles and responsibilities

Program lead – 

  • Recruit other roles and provide support to them
  • Create participant groups from RSVPs. Oversee participant recruitment drive.
  • Take care of all logistics: room booking, A/V needs
  • Ensure evaluations take place and review data to improve programming

Discussion Leads (one each group):

  • Facilitator. Create inclusive and respectful atmosphere. Ideal attributes: interpersonal facilitation experience, reputation as “fair”, understanding of diversity and inclusion topics
  • Equity advocate. Encourage critical thinking. Ideal attributes: able to challenge and push people in respectful and inviting way (not self-righteous, condescending, or too intense)
  • Women Leaders (if doing the format that includes two women). Provide perspective. Ideal attributes: nonjudgmental, nonjudgmental, nonjudgmental; familiarity with topics of diversity and inclusion and allyship
  • Host (if doing the groups in folks' homes). Communication dinner logistics – address, food/potluck, date/time.

Agenda / Program

Tips and pitfalls

  • With the right discussion fodder and decent discussion leads, these groups run themselves
  • People often think they need more lead time to plan an event like this than they do. There is very little marginal benefit for giving MBA students 4 weeks notice versus 8 weeks, since people are all very busy already and will bail at the last minute no matter how much lead time you give them.


1 month prior


Subject: Gender equity discussion with mostly men?

[day] [date] 
Please RSVP here: [Link]

Join a group of mostly male, and a few female, classmates to discuss gender equity issues. That gender ratio is purposeful so that we can speak more freely. Questions, comments, concerns, experiences – they're all welcome.

The purpose of the conversation is to talk about gender equity, unconscious bias, and sexual harassment in the workplace and its greater relevance both inside and outside of the office. We would encourage you to join in this non-judgmental, non-hostile conversation. We understand that everyone has varying levels of comfort and understanding of events surrounding these topics, so we’ve gathered several articles to help structure our discussion.

Here's one that we think is particularly good: [Link to article]

If you'd like to come, please fill out the RSVP link above.