By the Way, Flirting Should Never Include Death Threats

Each week, we share five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

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Photo of woman seated on bleachers, alone and in the shadows. By Thorn Yang via Pexels.

1. Believe reports of harassment (and not assume it was harmless flirting)

Last week, we read about a group of Microsoft employees protesting the company’s treatment of women. Here’s just one account of harassment and discrimination:

“one woman who worked in engineering said that a man who worked for a partner company threatened to kill her during a business trip several years ago if she did not perform an unnamed sexual act. The woman wrote that she was able to get away. She immediately alerted human resources and management, but her male manager allegedly said that it sounded like the man was flirting and that she should get over it. When she asked to be reassigned to avoid traveling with the alleged harasser, she claims her manager reframed her request as an inability to perform her role, and she was told she had 60 days to find a new role or be laid off.”

When someone reports harassment, let’s not respond that it sounds like harmless flirting. Instead, let’s take it seriously.

By the way, flirting should never include death threats.

2. Opt in to be a better ally, every day

Kyle Kover, a professional basketball player, wrote a powerful article titled, Privileged. In it, he shares his experience being a white athlete, and how very different it is for his teammates of color.

While the entire article is worth reading, here’s one paragraph that caught our eye:

“What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color…… I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.”

Allies, we all can utilize the privilege we’ve been given, and take action. To do better than we’ve done in the past. To push ourselves further than before to support our colleagues from underrepresented groups. To opt in, every day.

3. Be considerate, which might mean ditching the chivalry

Journalist Nina Kimes shared a PSA on Twitter that went viral:

“don’t think this occurs to most guys, so: when you get into a hotel elevator with a strange woman, try to press your button first. and if you get off on the same floor, exit the elevator first.”

She followed it with this tweet:

“I realize this runs counter to norms of chivalry, and 99.9999% of people don’t have bad intentions, but–as someone who has been followed, and has had to turn around, fake phone calls, etc.–it really helps”

Enough said.

4. Ask about parental leave policy, before a soon-to-be parent needs one

If your startup doesn’t have a parental leave policy yet, ask about it. Too often, the burden is put on the first pregnant woman to advocate for herself. Or the first person who is adopting a child.

More guidance in Not enough diversity at your startup? Champion inclusion through better policies by Y-Vonne Hutchinson for the “Inclusion At Work” blog.

5. Disrupt stereotypes

Gillette is on a roll. Back in January, they released a controversial ad calling out toxic masculinity, and urged men to do better. (As you might imagine, the Better Allies team loved it.)

They’ve since released another ad that disrupts stereotypes, this one featuring a plus-size model.

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Gillette’s Instagram post of a plus-size model in a bikini in the surf.

Which begs the question. How can each of us question and disrupt stereotypes in our workplaces? In ad campaigns? In life?

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

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

Everyday actions to create inclusive, engaging workplaces. Together, we can — and will — make a difference with the Better Allies® approach.

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