Ending the Plague of Secret Parenting, Reversing a Trending Taboo, and Other Actions for Allies

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

Photo of a man walking with a young girl on a city street during daytime. Both are wearing backpacks. By Pawel L via Pexels.

1. Speak openly about parenting responsibilities

In End the Plague of Secret Parenting, economist Emily Oster shares a simple yet important idea:

“If mothers and fathers speak openly about child-care obligations, their colleagues will adapt.”

Here’s what it might look like.

  • “I do not do meetings after 5 p.m. because of my children.”
  • “Sorry, but today I’m leaving at 3:30 because I’ve been traveling a lot, and I promised my kids I’d come home early to make cookies.”
  • “I don’t respond to Slack messages between 5pm-8pm Pacific because it’s family time.”
  • “I’m working from home tomorrow because I need to bring my child to the pediatrician mid-day.”

By normalizing the experience of parenting while working, we can create a more inclusive culture. Not just for parents, but for everyone with demands on their time for family or other obligations.

2. Mentor women (especially because of #MeToo)

In early 2018, SurveyMonkey and LeanIn.org surveyed almost three thousand employed adults about harassment. Nearly half of male managers responded that they were uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together. This is twice as many as before the #MeToo movement started just a few months before.

They recently reran the survey and found the trend has worsened. Now, 60% of male managers said they are uncomfortable with mentoring, working alone, or socializing with a woman. Read about it here.

They also reported that senior men are 12 times more hesitant to meet alone with junior women than with junior men.

We need to reverse this trend. Male allies: let’s make sure we’re mentoring women, inviting them to join us for social activities, and, in general, getting to know them. Otherwise, we won’t be in a position to sponsor them, advocate for them, or open career doors on their behalf.

Image from LeanIn.org reading “Men’s Hesitancy: Now more than ever, we need men to actively support women at work. Instead, they’re pulling back.”

3. Provide travel guides for employees who are blind

If attending conferences or events is an important professional development offering for your organization, how can you ensure that all employees can take part? Including those that are blind?

Here’s a simple idea from the Job Accommodation Network: provide a sighted guide. This is someone who can assist them with travel and with navigating the hotel and conference center.

Read more about supporting colleagues who are blind here.

4. Believe people when they report abuse

Last week, Buzzfeed ran a story about how motivational speaker Tony Robbins has berated abuse victims. And that he was caught on tape saying that victims are lying and “using all this stuff to try and control men.”

While he may have been speaking about victims of rape and domestic violence, he nevertheless provides us with a cautionary tale for workplace abuse.

When someone tells us they’ve been abused or harassed or been on the receiving end of any kind of bias, believe them. (Even if you haven’t personally witnessed or experienced it.) And then figure out steps to take to support them.

p.s. We love this clever comic by Nathan W Pyle, which gives insight into this concept so perfectly.

5. Ban using Native American mascots

In the workplace, we tend to give code names to projects. For a team-building activity, we form groups and vote on a catchy name. When moving into a new office space, a committee is often tasked with coming up with themes for the conference room names.

The next time we’re involved with brainstorming a name for any reason at work, let’s steer clear of using Native American mascots. Ditto for sayings that diminish or disparage the culture of Indigenous peoples. Examples include “powwow,” “going off the reservation,” “lowest person on the totem pole,” “too many chiefs, not enough Indians,” and “Indian giver.”

Turns out that Maine just became the first U.S. State to ban Native American mascots in their public schools. We can do the same in our workplaces, to be inclusive and respectful of Native Americans and their heritage.

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

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

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