Sprinkle That Normalization Everywhere, and Other Actions for Allies

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

Handmade poster taped to brick column, stating: “Gender Grammar: Never Assume Someone’s Pronouns.” Workshop Wednesday 5pm
Handmade poster taped to brick column, stating: “Gender Grammar: Never Assume Someone’s Pronouns.” Workshop Wednesday 5pm

1. “Sprinkle” the normalization of stating pronouns everywhere

“It used to be that mostly trans and non-binary people had their pronouns in their bios. Now I’m seeing many cis people do it, and I love how it can no longer be easily used by garbage people to single out members of a marginalized group.

Sprinkle that normalization EVERYWHERE.”

This is something we can all do quite easily: Put our pronouns on social media profiles, email signatures, Slack display names, LinkedIn bios, conference name badges, etc. Spend just a few minutes doing so today. And help make it the norm.

2. Encourage candidates to apply even if they don’t meet all the requirements

HP’s findings have been validated by other research. In “How to Lead,” Jo Owen describes how men applied for head teaching roles when they thought they were 50% ready, while women wanted to be nearer to 100% ready before taking on the responsibility.

Want to attract more women for your open roles? Consider adding this sentence to your job ads, like tech company Webflow has done:

“We’d love to hear from you — even if you don’t meet 100% of the requirements.”

3. Move a mentee through the sponsorship continuum

And the fix isn’t to just encourage women to seek more senior mentors.

The crux of the challenge is that the more senior mentors need to get to know women before they’ll spend their personal capital advocating for them. So, Prof. Ibarra recommends a sponsorship continuum, with various levels of support for a mentee:

  • Mentor: Provide advice, support, coaching.
  • Strategizer: Share “insider info” about advancing; strategize getting ahead.
  • Connector: Make introductions to influential people; talk her up with peers.
  • Opportunity Giver: Provide a high-visibility opportunity.
  • Advocate: Publicly advocate a promotion; fight for her in settings where she can’t fight for herself.
A New Way to Think About Sponsorship: Mentor, Strategizer, Connector, Opportunity Giver, Advocate.
A New Way to Think About Sponsorship: Mentor, Strategizer, Connector, Opportunity Giver, Advocate.

Think about someone from an underrepresented group that you mentor. How can you move them through this continuum to support them in new ways? How will you get to know them better so you can best fight for them as their Advocate? Identify one step to take, and make it happen.

4. Stop “splaining” in its tracks

“I don’t want to single out men here, however. Splaining can happen whenever a conversation occurs between two people in which one person holds, relatively speaking, more power or privilege and assumes they have the intellectual upper hand. Hence whitesplaining, straightsplaining, able(-bodied)splaining, wealthysplaining, thinsplaining, and so on. Those who splain may have the intent of helping the situation, but the actual impact of their actions can feel condescending or insulting.”

Keep your eyes open for any form of splaining. If you find yourself doing it yourself, simply apologize. If you spot someone else doing it, consider responding with “Do you know so-and-so has expertise in that topic? Let’s hear from them.”

5. Listen before helping to build the house

Watch it when you need an ally boost.

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.

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