Taking a Stand on Personal Safety, 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 a doorstop by David Wall via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

1. Realize personal safety is a concern, even in professional settings

This week, the Des Moines Register reported on lawsuit by a businesswoman who was raped in her Embassy Suites hotel room. The front desk had given the attacker a key to her room without asking for proof that he was a guest. Then, upon realizing the victim had engaged the safety latch on the door, the attacker got a hotel staff member to disable it. All it took was a simple story about how his girlfriend had locked him out of their room after having a fight.

When Chad Loder, CEO of Habitu8, tweeted about the incident, many women responded to share the precautions they have to take when attending conferences, staying in hotels, and taking taxis.

One such precaution was from JB on Twitter:

JB’s story makes us want to give door jams to female colleagues before they go on business trips. Which may be helpful, but is there more we can do?

Here’s a different idea. The next time you’re locked out of your hotel room and the reception desk reissues you a key without asking any questions, ask them about their safety protocols. Make them a bit uncomfortable. Make them think twice before doing it the next time.

2. Challenge offensive jokes

Every uninterrupted joke about women furthers sexism. About people of color, racism. Each time we let one slide by unchallenged, we’re complicit in a workplace culture that allows bias to persist. Even if no one within earshot might be offended or hurt.

You may not be able to change someone’s mind, but you can set limits to their behavior when they’re around you. Try, “Don’t tell racist jokes in my presence anymore.” Or, “I don’t tolerate sexist remarks in my work space. Please respect my wishes.”

Check out the website this article on the Teaching Tolerance website for more actionable suggestions.

3. Push yourself to take on one additional ally role

The Muse published an excerpt from the Better Allies book: 7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like. We encourage you to read it, and think about which kind of ally sounds most like you. If you were to push yourself to take on another ally role in addition to the one you play naturally, what would it be?

4. Watch Purl

On a lighter note, we love Purl, the new animated short from Pixar that has some fun with stereotypical male-dominated work cultures. As you watch it unravel (pun intended), think about how your workplace might look like to a new female employee. Or to anyone who will be the “only” on your team. Did you pick up any ideas to make them feel more welcome?

5. Host a Better Allies book discussion

Allyship is considerably more daunting when attempted alone. If you’re looking for a next-step activity that can connect you to other like-minded colleagues, coworkers, and friends, consider forming an allyship book club to read and discuss Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin.

We’re putting the finishing touches on a book discussion guide. Interested in using it? Send us an email, and we’ll get it to you.

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

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

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

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