Small Actions Can Make A Big Difference

Fireworks inside a heart
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

1. Count how many Black people you interact with at work

Albrey Brown, a DEI leader and Better Allies supporter, posted a challenge on LinkedIn:

“Leaders, directors, managers, ask yourself:

1. How many Black candidates have you interviewed for positions on your team in 2020?

2. How many Black employees have you invited to your strategic planning meetings?

3. How many of your peers identify as Black?

If you don’t know the answer, investigate it. Then focus on increasing that number. Then hold your peers accountable to following your lead.”

Let’s all reflect on Albrey’s questions, come up with our totals (estimates are okay!), and identify how we can improve each one.

2. Share how promotions work

In Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration, the Center for Talent Innovation provides an analysis of obstacles that prevent many Black professionals from growing their careers. While I recommend reading the entire report, I want to highlight one everyday action I bet we all can take: Share how promotions work.

When an organization has clear communications about the promotion process, 31% of Black women surveyed said they are satisfied with their advancement and intend to stay at their companies. Compare that to just 9% for companies who don’t share it.

My instinct is that sharing the promotion process will benefit members of other underrepresented groups as well. Let’s make it happen.

3. Create a discussion forum for allies

I’ve started a new habit on weekends: Looking for a Twitter thread from Dr. Erin L. Thomas, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Upwork. Over the past month or so, she’s been tweeting tips and advice on how to be more inclusive. Each one is a treasure trove for people wanting to up their ally skills.

The latest thread includes this simple idea:

“Give allies a place to go. Leverage Slack or other internal chat tool to give allies a dedicated place to share their feels, NYT articles and Robin DiAngelo quotes. Importantly, this space should not include your Black employees, whose peace should be protected.”

If you don’t have an #Allies Slack channel or discussion forum, what’s stopping you from making one right away?

Already have one and looking for more content to post to it? I’d be honored to have you share any of my weekly “5 Ally Actions” that would resonate with your coworkers. In fact, maybe #1 or #2 in today’s edition would be good ones to start with.

4. Don’t erase contributions

Adelle Goodwin, an astrophysics Ph.D. student, called out news website Science Alert for erasing her contributions:

“Hi @ScienceAlert I’m the lead author of this research but the article you published removed all mention of me and my quotes from the press release and used only a quote from one of my male co-authors #EverydaySexism”

Science Alert quickly apologized on Twitter and updated the article to quote Adelle, the lead researcher on the project.

As allies, let’s pay attention to who is mentioned in articles or during discussions of projects, whether that means scientific research or any kind of work our organization does. Let’s take every opportunity to give a shout-out to contributors, especially those from underrepresented groups. It’s yet another way to sponsor someone.

(Thanks to Better Allies champion Bobbie Riley for bringing this Tweet to my attention.)

5. Reflect on the significance of Juneteenth

“Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.” The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

If you’re like me and didn’t learn about Juneteenth during a US history class in high school, here’s why June 19th, aka Juneteenth, is so significant. As the website explains:

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official January 1, 1863.”

Two and a half years later. Let that sink in.

Now, more than 150 years after those slaves in Texas became free, companies across the US are observing Juneteenth as a holiday. Maybe yours is one of them? If not, consider lobbying to make it a holiday next year.

At the very least, we all can pause for a moment and reflect on the significance of this date, America’s second independence day.

That’s all for this week. I wish you strength and safety as we all move forward,

— Karen Catlin, Founder and Author of Better Allies

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

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Better Allies®

Better Allies®

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