Sprinkle That Normalization Everywhere, and Other Actions for Allies

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

This week, Amanda Jette Knox, the bestselling author of “Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family,” tweeted:

“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

You’ve probably heard about a now-famous internal Hewlett-Packard study that found that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications listed for the job, while men applied when they thought they could meet 60% of the job 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

Herminia Ibarra, a professor at Insead, has studied the impact of mentoring and sponsoring on promotions. Interestingly, she found that these relationships benefit male mentees more than women. Why? The simple fact is that men tend to have more senior mentors, who in turn can open more career doors.

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.

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

In her latest book, “How to Be an Inclusive Leader,” Jennifer Brown expands the traditional definition of “mansplaining.” She writes,

“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

We love this inspiring, fast-paced, and funny video by actress and comedian Franchesca Ramsey: 5 Tips For Being An Ally. As she says, “We need your help building this house, but you should probably listen so you know what to do first.”

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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Better Allies®

Better Allies®

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