Don’t Reward the Brilliant Jerk, and Other Actions for Allies

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

blurry shadow of a person on a trophy
blurry shadow of a person on a trophy
“trophy 1997” by info image seek is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

1. Don’t reward the brilliant jerk

On his WorkLife podcast, Adam Grant interviewed Luis von Ahn, CEO and Founder of Duolingo. They spoke about building a culture that protects employees from abuse. Luis shared a memorable piece of advice: “in a company, it’s better to have a hole than an a**hole.”

2. Ditch job requirements that aren’t actually required

In an interview published in Forbes, we read that “Companies like Apple, Google, IBM, and others are no longer requiring employees to have college degrees.” We bet it’s because they were hiring otherwise great candidates.

3. Call out the objectification of women

David Brunelle, a Director of Engineering at Starbucks, received what he described as a “blatant example of sexism in an email from a salesman.” The email included, “what’s your go-to order at Starbucks? I like my women like I like my Starbucks Coffee order: Tall, Blonde, Americano…” To which David responded, “Men: Don’t do this. Here is my reply…”

4. Learn the names of your coworkers

In an OpEd for Teen Vogue, artist and author N’Jameh Camara made a compelling case for learning to pronounce the names of people around you. She wrote, “The choice made by many not to learn my name renders me invisible.”

5. Push back on decision-making where the loudest voices win

Author and technologist Robert Munro recently published an essay, How Can Technology Leaders be Better Allies for Diversity. While his entire article is worth reading, we especially appreciated that, during an exit interview, he criticized the company for its decision-making processes that let the loudest voices win. As he explained, the process was “disproportionately biased against people who were less fluent in English and also against non-males who were brought up in cultures where boys are socialized to speak up more than girls.”

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

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