Good Guys Interview

Welcome to an Innovators edition of the TotalPicture Podcast with your host Peter Clayton. According to my guests today, the key to advancing gender equality? Men!

Joining me are David Smith and W. Brad Johnson, authors of Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace published by Harvard Business Review Press. David Smith is professor of sociology in the College of Leadership and Ethics at the US Naval War College, and Brad Johnson is a professor of psychology in the department of Leadership Ethics and Law at the United States Naval Academy and a faculty associate in the Graduate School of Education at John Hopkins University. They are the coauthors of Athena Rising, How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.


Welcome, David and Brad. As the father of three girls, I was immediately drawn to Good Guys.

I’ve spent enough time in male-dominated industries and organizations to have seen firsthand the disadvantage women have.

According to the Preface of Good Guys, your book Athena Rising was the catalyst for writing your new book. Can you give us some background?

You interviewed a number of men and women in writing Good Guys, men who are considered to be allies to women in the workplace. According to the women you spoke to, what traits defined their male coworkers as allies? and Are there any traits that seem to be consistent across the board?

What surprised you, if anything, in researching and writing Good Guys?

The current world we’re living in seems to me to have raised a number of interesting issues directly related to gender equity. First, guess what? You can work from home and be effective. All of a sudden, the idea of everyone must come to the office to get work done has been shown to be a male fantasy. What’s your take? How has the pandemic impacted gender equality?

Do you think work from home will help to advance gender equality? So now that everyone who can work from home is – how can men become better allies to the women they’re virtually working with?

You have an entire chapter titled “To Be Legit as an Ally, Start at Home,” which I think has taken on new meaning and importance. Can you share with us strategies when you have two parents working from home on Zoom calls with kids and cats and dogs and chaos on a daily basis?

Why do so many women choose careers in HR? Virtually every CHRO I know is a woman.

Last week I participated in an HR Tech Alliances Virtual event that showcased several companies in workforce analytics – or people analytics and the data these companies are able to extract and analyze is truly amazing. One company, Claro had a nifty chart called “Female Representation in the Workforce and Leadership Positions.

So companies being able to hide behind opaque PR is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Do you think more transparency will motivate companies to practice more gender diversity in their leadership?

D&I Has been a hot topic at every HR Tech and Talent Acquisition virtual event this year. Is it being discussed in universities?

What are the 2 or 3 most important takeaways from your book?


Women are at a disadvantage. At home, they often face an unequal division of household chores and childcare, and in the workplace, they deal with lower pay, lack of credit for their contributions, roadblocks to the promotion, sexual harassment, and more. And while organizations are looking to address these issues, too many gender-inclusion initiatives focus on how women themselves should respond, reinforcing the perception that these are “women’s issues” and that men—often the most influential stakeholders in an organization—don’t need to be involved. Gender-in-the-workplace experts David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson counter this perception. In this important book, they show that men have a crucial role to play in promoting gender equality at work. Research shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96 percent of women in those organizations perceive real progress in gender equality, compared with only 30 percent of women in organizations without strong male engagement. Good Guys is the first practical, research-based guide for how to be a male ally to women in the workplace. Filled with firsthand accounts from both men and women, and tips for getting started, the book shows how men can partner with their female colleagues to advance women’s leadership and equality by breaking ingrained gender stereotypes, overcoming unconscious biases, developing and supporting the talented women around them, and creating productive and respectful working relationships with women. You can find David G. Smith at: You can find W. Brad Johnson at: