Advocacy in Real Life: Why Jonathan Maricle is ALL IN

In January 2019 The Frontier Project launched ALL IN to promote true inclusion, access, and dignity in the workplace. One of the first initiatives of ALL IN was a series of workshops called Allies & Advocates, which equip people to advocate on behalf of themselves and their colleagues. Throughout these workshops and conversations in the business community, we’ve met individuals across genders and professional disciplines who are doing great work.

We wanted to introduce you to some of these people, so you can learn what they’re doing to advocate on behalf of others (and why). Based on our conversations, we know many of us want to do more, but don’t always know where to start.

So first up, meet
Jonathan Maricle, PhD, MFA, CSM. Jonathan most recently served as VP of Production at Purple, Rock, Scissors. Today, as the owner of Resonator Consulting, he partners with companies like Facebook to build better digital products, experiences, and production strategies. I worked alongside Jonathan in a professional capacity back in 2015-2017 and witnessed his advocacy first-hand. Here’s our interview.

Jonathan, based on your experience, why do we need allies and advocates in the workplace right now?

In our current cultural moment, we’re surfacing more visibility and better language to talk about inclusion, diversity, and privilege. And, as an effect, we’re bringing some of those previously hidden issues and inequalities, such as sexual and gender harassment, into the open. However, as a culture, we’re still learning how to talk to each other—how to be truly heard in our personal experiences and how to build a common language around issues—and that type of change has to begin locally: in our workplaces and our homes.

Why do you personally take being an allyand an advocate so seriously? In other words, what experiences or beliefs have informed your behavior?

I’ve been in board rooms where jokes are made at women’s expense; I’ve seen the pay gaps, heard the gay and lesbian jokes, and the terrible thing is that my experience is in no way unique. We’ve all seen it.

But, it wasn’t until a colleague gave me Peggy MacIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, that I began to understand the invisible affordances that come with my personal social position in this culture. At that moment, I realized I could use my unique social privilege to be a true advocate in the workplace and create a culture of compassion, trust, and vulnerability for each and every employee.

How do you advocate on behalf of your colleagues in the workplace—specifically women? What does advocacy look like for you?

My style of advocacy changes depending on the institutional culture, the industry, and the HR system that’s in place.However, there are three common rules I always follow:

  • First, talk less and listen more. Active listening is the root of understanding.
  • Second, not intervening on behalf of my female-identifying colleagues without their consent. If I go to my CEO to address a pay gap inequality without consulting my colleague first, I run the risk of alienating them or increasing the tension in the workplace without their consent.
  • And third, building robust continuing education and 90-day goal tracking so there is a clear, evidence-based system for promotion and career advancement. To me, this is the most important way to build a clear path to the board room and disrupt gendered group think.

What's one effective change you've seen an organization make that truly promoted more inclusive behaviors and increased access to opportunities for all employees?

During my time working with Facebook, it’s been great to see how their Chief Diversity Officer is dramatically increasing access to opportunities and fostering conversation. For Facebook, it begins by partnering with outside organizations who can come in and teach best practices, start conversations, and mentor leaders. Bring in experts and let them guide your senior and middle management.

And then, perhaps most importantly, provide opportunities for self-organizing special interest groups inside the company that are peer-to- peer and not governed by leadership (also known as Reed’s Law). True cultural change is governed from the bottom, not mandated from the top, so let employees build robust social clusters around topics that really matter to them—whether it’s photography, political activism, or supporting female-identifying persons of color—and then actively listen and take action. I promise, it will pay dividends.

Any parting thoughts?

On occasion, I have colleagues or clients who are brave enough to ask, Do we really need to talk about this stuff in the workplace—why can’t we just all do our work and go home? The reason is, when we’re dealing with transphobia, racial and ethnic intolerance, and sexual harassment, we don’t just get to put those to the side, do our work, and go home.

I’m so happy we’re learning to have these conversations now as both allies and advocates in the workplace—even if we are still learning how to truly listen to one another and fumbling a bit in the process (that’s a good thing; growth is messy)—because to not do so is to turn our backs on our most valuable resources: our people.

To learn more about how to promote true inclusion, access, and dignity in the workplace, visit You can also subscribe to the ALL IN Ask Anything podcast and follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

<< Back to blog