Looking Out For “Four Guys Named Dave” 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 professional woman speaking and smirking as though she just told a joke. By Pixabay via Pexels.

1. Look out for bias when women use humor in presentations

This week we learned of yet another double standard in the workplace: Making Jokes During a Presentation Helps Men But Hurts Women. Researchers studied first impressions of a speaker, as would be the case in a job interview or an initial client meeting. And they found…

“When men add humor to a business presentation, observers view them as having higher levels of status (that is, respect or prestige) within the organization, and give them higher performance ratings and leadership capability assessments compared to when they do not include humor. However, when women add the same humor to the same presentation, people view them as having lower levels of status, rate their performance as lower, and consider them less capable as leaders.”

So, the next time you’re listening to a woman give a presentation, watch out for this bias. If you find yourself thinking “she’s trying to cover up her lack of real business acumen by making little jokes,” or “she showed poor judgment in telling jokes,” catch yourself. Then apply the “flip it to test it” approach. Would you think the same thing if a man made the same joke?

2. Remind recruiters that bias can creep into the process

A study by LinkedIn found that recruiters were 13% less likely to click on a woman’s profile when it pops up in a search. And they were 3% less likely to message a woman after seeing her profile.

During your next hiring push, bring up this study with your recruiters, and discuss ideas for combatting bias as they search for candidates.

3. Call out homogeneous interview panels

Last week, Karen Catlin heard a telling anecdote from a coaching client:

“When I interviewed at <large tech company in Silicon Valley>, the interview panel was all men. And four of them were named Dave.”

The next time you’re invited to be on an interview panel, ask yourself, “What would a candidate from an underrepresented group think about this lineup?” If you’ve got all white men, four guys named Dave, or too much of any homogeneity, call it out.

4. Encourage acts of allyship with a bot

Employee retention software company Humaxa has developed a “goofy, self-deprecating chatbot” that asks for feedback, such as:

“You know, it’s true that diversity and inclusion come up a lot these days — even among us bots! But insuring inclusivity at work is no joking matter. Do you feel that this organization makes people with diverse backgrounds feel valued and included?”

Depending on how someone answers, the bot takes action. It might reply, “Thank you for your feedback. How about nominating someone from a diverse background for ‘Person of the Day’? You can leave some positive feedback for them as well!”

Or “Thank you for your feedback. You know, we have some open positions here, at this organization. Maybe you know people from diverse backgrounds who would be a good fit for one or two of them? You can check out open positions and refer someone by following this link…”

Consider what kinds of allyship you would want to encourage in your organization, and if a bot could help.

Read more about Humaxa’s Slackbot and how to try it for free on their blog.

5. Share this article 🙏

Exactly one year ago, we revamped our fledgling Better Allies newsletter to its new format of “5 Ally Actions.” Since then, our mailing list has grown over 800%. Woot!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared our newsletter, or the corresponding Medium posts, with a colleague or posted it as a resource.

Now, help us to reach even more people who want to level up their ally skills. Please consider forwarding this article to a colleague (or ten). Many thanks!

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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