Let’s Make 2019 the “Year of the Ally”

Image for post
Image for post
Photo of a handshake between a person of color and a white person. Via Pexels.

5 Ally Actions | Dec 21, 2018

Each week, we share five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and become a better ally. As we reflect on the past year, we’re hoping you can join us in making 2019 the “Year of the Ally.”

1. Be inclusive during the interview process

This week, Pinterest engineer Justin Mejorada-Pier published What it’s like to interview at Pinterest. While Justin’s overall message is about how to make interviewing a positive experience, there are some specific ideas for making the process more inclusive:

  • Avoiding “gotcha” moments by giving candidates the opportunity to show their best work (and not trying to trick them with our questions).
  • Appreciating different approaches to problem solving. For example, some candidates might talk aloud as they write code while others silently brainstorm before diving into solutions. Both are fine.
  • Using reminders to check unconscious bias when entering candidate feedback.

That last point is one that we want to dig into more. Do you take action to combat unconscious bias when discussing candidates? We’d like to hear from you. Please reply to this email and tell us what this looks like in practice.

2. Advocate for anonymous application processes

You may be familiar with what happened when orchestras started having candidates perform behind a screen. Even when done only during a preliminary round, anonymous auditions made it 50% more likely that a woman would advance to the final round.

And this approach can be applied to other disciplines as well.

This week, we read that the Telescope Allocation Committee moved to an anonymous application process for using the Hubble Space Telescope. And the impact was out of this world. (Sorry; we couldn’t resist that pun). The change created a more level playing field, reversing a trend over the previous 15 application cycles which favored men. This time, the committee approved 8.7% of the proposals led by female principal investigators and 8% of those led by men.

Let’s all consider the application processes at our companies. For jobs, for promotions, for speaking at company events, for whatever. To combat any bias that may creep into the evaluation of those applications, could an anonymous process be adopted?

3. Set any #MeToo paranoia aside

Richard Handler and Brian Friedman, the CEO and bank president of investment bank Jefferies, wrote a year-end letter to their staff where they called out the “thoughtless, paranoid and fundamentally wrong reaction that many people in our industry are expressing about the #MeToo movement and many other efforts to assure fairness and decency in the workplace.”

And this #MeToo paranoia is not limited to the financial services industry. Earlier this year LeanIn and SurveyMonkey released a survey that found nearly half of male managers said that since #MeToo, they’re now uncomfortable working alone, mentoring, or socializing with a woman — twice as many as before the #MeToo movement started.

We can shift this tide by all agreeing to mentor a woman or someone from another underrepresented group. Informally or formally, it can make a difference. Respond to that next email seeking your advice. Tell the women’s group at your company you are available to be a mentor. Volunteer through a formal mentoring program. You get the picture.

4. Introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t look like you

Having a diverse network is a foundation for being a better ally. At upcoming holiday parties, New Year’s brunches, and the like, look for opportunities to introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t look like you. Just walk up and introduce yourself. Simple as that.

5. Tell a colleague (or ten) about “5 Ally Actions”

As we reflect on 2018, we’re thankful to every single person who signed up for our newsletter and to those who then recommended it to friends and colleagues. That word-of-mouth marketing led us to realize a 700% growth in our subscribers this year. Amazing.

In 2019, we want to share the Better Allies approach with even more people. Help us make that happen by subscribing (if you haven’t already done so) and telling at least one colleague about our newsletter. Or post this link on a Slack channel for your team.

Many thanks. Here’s to making 2019 the year of the ally!

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

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

Written by

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store