Bystander tips for male allies

by Oct 14, 2021

Bystander tips for male allies:

See something. Say something, Do something!


“The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological theory that states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when there are other people present.”

Make no mistake, bystanders are complicit

The problem

Here are some stats for you to digest. This is based on different research from Isabella Lenarduzzi ‘s organisation JUMP and 3Plus International

👎 66% -75% of inappropriate incidents are not reported.

👎 90% + women experience sexism in the workplace

👎 83% hear or are the target of sexist jokes

👎 75% report comments on their appearance

👎 23% are sexually harassed.

👎 65% of women on LinkedIn receive inappropriate advances (this data courtesy of Andy Foote)

I could go on but I won’t. We have to do better. All of us, including women, but especially men. You need to become our allies.

A video was circulated on Twitter at the weekend showing a man verbally abusing a woman on a train. It was only when he went to attack her did the other passengers intervene. I understand the nervousness of taking on someone who seemed drunk. But those in front of him could have stood up and formed a cordon around her. The woman held her nerve and was cool. That shouldn’t be necessary.

Minor incidents can be gateway behaviours and they escalate.  The murderer of Sarah Everard in London was known to his colleagues  as “The Rapist.”

They knew.

Bystander tips for male allies


Bystander tips for male allies


Very often people will make excuses. He’s married. He has daughters. He didn’t mean anything by it. Guys is a gender neutral term. We couldn’t find any women speakers.  But that won’t cut it any longer. Not all sexism is hostile and aggressive, but it is insidious and damaging nevertheless. Many of these incidents happen in full view of other people, but very often no one intervenes. Women don’t report them either and so toxic behaviour becomes embedded and accepted in our cultures.

For many the behaviour is so embedded in our cultures they don’t even see it when it happens or experience it for what it is.

If you see or hear something mildly or moderately inappropriate and you don’t SAY anything  – you are complicit.

If you see or hear anything very inappropriate and you don’t DO anything  – you are complicit

Women who experience inappropriate behaviour, especially if it is extreme but take no action are complicit. You might have gotten off lightly but you have no idea what the perpetrator will do next. Do not let it slide. I have heard of women who have experienced sexual harassment who don’t want to report it for fear of damaging a man’s career.

Seriously? What if he does something worse next time to someone else? How will you feel then?

Kenneth Lang, LinkedIn expert and long term ally suggested a hashtag to call out behaviour on LinkedIn – that is a start.

👂When you hear

  • derogatory comments, sexist jokes, and banter
  • sexist assumptions that impact women’s careers
  • wolf-whistling, catcalling
  • gossip
  • use of pet names
  • mixed groups being called “guys”
  • unwelcome romantic overtures


Bystander tips for male allies

👁‍🗨When you see

  •  inappropriate or lewd texts, tweets, posts, emails. Even “professional platforms have their fair share of inappropriate content.
  •  pornographic images
  •  inappropriate or hostile touching
  •  unwanted invasion of personal space
  •  upskirting
  •  obscene gestures
  •  mooning
  •  physical or sexual abuse
  •  indecent exposure
  •  abuse of power or authority

Please feel free to circulate this infographic widely.


Bystander tips for male allies


See something. Say something, Do something



Find out how to combat sexism and harassment in your organisation – get in touch NOW  



Why we need to shift from bystander to upstander

Facilitation and enablement is deeply and dangerously embedded into our culture

A small way men can be better allies

How to stage a bystander intervention 

3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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