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5 Ally Actions - Sep 13, 2019

Better allyship starts here. Each week, we share 5 simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace.

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Know when to walk away from cash

In light of the news about MIT and their attempts to cover up the fact that they were taking money from a convicted child molester, we’re reminded that change starts with each of us as individuals. So we should ask ourselves: How do we want to operate? Treat people? Would we turn down business or investments because of creepy behavior? Would we dismiss our top sales executive after disciplining him for harassment? What are the deals we won’t do because they conflict with our values? When will we walk away from cash?

Allyship becomes meaningless if it’s abandoned in the face of lucrative business deals or strategic partnerships. Allies, let’s remember our values and live them out.


Question methodologies that result in “dude lists”

Last week, Forbes announced America’s Most Innovative Leaders, a list of one hundred of “the most creative and successful business minds of today.” And there was an immediate outcry. As author Anand Giridharadas noted, “On @Forbes’s list of America’s 100 ‘Most Innovative Leaders,’ there are twice as many men named Stanley as there are women of any name. And there are only two Stanleys. That’s right: 99 of America’s 100 most innovative leaders are men, @Forbes says.”

A few days later, the editor of Forbes wrote about the methodology for identifying the list, and called it flawed. He admitted they focused on leaders of public companies versus the overall pool of innovative talent.

As we come across any kind of selection criteria, let’s examine it closely for how it might pre-determine the results. How it might narrow the pool to people who are in the majority, who are already successful, who are expected to be selected. How it might result in yet another “dude list.”


Don’t reinforce gender assumptions about the kind of person typically in a role

Gala Camacho, who heads up analytics at a data insights company, called out Relevant Software for the spectacularly gendered job ad for a vice president of engineering. While the image of the bearded dude with the untucked shirt was bad enough on its own, the CEO went on to defend the ad, claiming it “is so technical” and therefore deserving of a male image to attract the right kind of talent.

Takeaway #1: Don’t include images in job posts that reinforce gender assumptions about the kind of person “typically” in the role.

Takeaway #2: Listen, learn, and apologize when you make a mistake.


Use photos of actual employees on the careers page

When representing employees on your careers page, be genuine and authentic. Use photos of your actual employees in a way that represents your demographics. Steer clear of stock photography, especially if you’re trying to represent a diverse workforce. Candidates can easily do an image search online and find that your “employee” is a model who appears on many job sites. Like we recently discovered on Dow’s site, which features a stock photo of a “happy african american worker.”


Ask event organizers to include accessibility information

Mia Mingus, a writer, educator and community organizer for disability justice and transformative justice, has a simple but powerful suggestion for allies: “If you come across an event that does not have accessibility information mentioned, contact the organizers to include it.”

Now that’s something we can all do.

Mark Your Calendar

Karen Catlin will speak about Better Allies at these events:

  • Oct 9: DIFEST, San Francisco CA. Details 50% partner discount code: KCDIFEST
  • Oct 16: EDUCAUSE 2019, Chicago IL. Details
  • Nov 5: Women Advance IT Conference, University of Nebraska. Details
  • Nov 8: Allyship Event, Sunnyvale CA. (Details coming soon)
  • Nov 13: Digital Diversity Days at Sparkbox, Dayton OH. Details
  • Jan 17: Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, Washington State University. Details

In the coming weeks, she’ll also speak at Bloomberg, Intuit, and Thomson Reuters. Want to invite Karen to give a talk at your event, speaker series, or company meeting? Simply reply to this email to start the conversation. It’s that easy!

Being an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

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Together, we can — and will — make a difference with the Better Allies™ approach.

Book cover for "Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces"
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