Disrupting the Class Ceiling and Other Actions for Allies

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

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Photo of antique spiral stairway by Cosmin Paduraru from Pexels

1. Take a close look at who you sponsor

The Atlantic recently published an interview with Daniel Laurison, coauthor of a new book, The Class Ceiling: Why It Pays to Be Privileged. The interview explores how the customs of elite workplaces can favor those who grew up wealthier.

One point especially caught our attention:

“It’s really hard for any given individual in any given situation to fully parse what’s actual talent or intelligence or merit, and what’s, Gosh, that person reminds me of me, or I feel an affinity for them because we can talk about skiing or our trips to the Bahamas. Part of it is also that what your criteria are for a good worker often comes from what you think makes you a good worker.”

Allies, if we find ourselves advocating for people who are like us, it’s time to look for a more diverse group of people to sponsor.

2. Call out harassment when you see it

Earlier this week, Alice Goldfuss tweeted, “The Open Source Initiative board is having elections and a number of women are running. They are already getting targeted harassment. It’s not a pipeline problem.”

She also shared a screen shot of a post by “Anonymous Coward” with their personal threat rating of the female candidates. It included the comment, “VOTE THIS B**** OFF THE ISLAND AT ALL COSTS.”

Allies, when we see a post like this in an online community, let’s call it out. Instead of ignoring it, simply shaking our heads, or rolling our eyes, let’s take a stand. Instead of being a bystander, be an upstander.

3. Realize how language might close doors

Is it really a big deal to use “guys” to refer to a mixed gender group, or to use the pronoun “he” to refer to a person of any gender?

According to writing expert Anne Janzer,

“You might argue that people are too sensitive to this stuff. Perhaps that’s true, but this sensitivity may not rise to the level of consciousness. It may show up as a background discomfort, or an intuition that something isn’t a good fit.

If you’re writing or speaking and want to attract a larger audience, you don’t want to turn people away inadvertently. Your word choices may be metaphorically slamming doors in your readers’ faces, telling them they’re not welcome.”

Read her full post here, which includes an interview with our founder Karen Catlin about subtle cases of exclusionary language that happen around us all the time.

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4. Check the demographics of planned layoffs

Reductions in the workforce are hard. From identifying who is no longer needed to delivering the news, it’s a challenging time for any leader. And it can be ripe for bias to creep in.

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a layoff at Snap, where all 6 employees eliminated from the growth and design teams were women. According to people familiar with the matter, these workforce cuts disproportionately targeted women.

When planning a reduction, let’s be sure to check the demographics of the people impacted. If it’s not representative of the teams’ overall demographics, start asking questions.

5. Buy the “Better Allies” Kindle book during our International Women’s Day sale

We’re running a Kindle countdown deal for International Women’s Day. If you’ve been putting off buying “Better Allies” because of your budget, now is the time to act.

For customers on Amazon.com, you can purchase the Kindle version on March 8, 2019 for $4.99 USD. Over the weekend, the price will increase $1.00 each day. So, the faster you head over to Amazon to get your copy, the more you’ll save. (A countdown deal is also available on Amazon.co.uk.)

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

Together, we can — and will — make a difference.

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

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