The One on Skin Tone Emojis, Adjectives to Avoid, 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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Image showing a mockup of emoji skin tones, from the Emojipedia Blog

1. Use the emoji that matches your skin tone

This week’s “Dear Ally Skills Teacher” advice column addresses an important topic: Should white people use white skin tone emojis?

The column explores what different skin tone emojis mean, how to avoid appropriation, and why white people should not use a darker skin tone emoji to show “how woke they are.”

The TL;DR? Use the emoji that matches your skin tone. Or the default yellow one. Either will do.

2. Mind your adjectives

The University of Arizona’s Commission on the Status of Women reviewed research on how bias can creep into letters of reference. And came up with a one-page infographic of helpful tips.

We especially like the section on adjectives to avoid (e.g., dependable, tactful, warm) and those to include (e.g., outstanding, successful, skilled).

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Adjectives to avoid:caring compassionate hard-working conscientious dependable diligent dedicated tactful interpersonal warm helpful. Adjectives to include:successful excellent accomplished outstanding skilled knowledgeable insightful resourceful confident ambitious independent intellectual.

Bookmark their page, and refer to it before the next time you give a reference or write performance feedback.

3. Introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t look like you

Having a diverse network is a foundation for being a better ally. And here’s a small but important step to diversify and expand your network. At professional events, introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t look like you. A different gender, race, age, visible abilities, etc.

If you’re uncomfortable doing so, consider starting the conversation with “What’s on your mind today?” It’s a great question to kickstart any conversation. (This suggestion comes from “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier.)

4. Interview more than one of any demographic

Civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri wrote a piece for Politico about his experience helping organizations put together diverse candidate pools, and extrapolated it to the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The article begins with, “The contest for the presidency is like an elaborate job interview process with the American people.”

Cyrus goes on to share, “A single diverse candidate faces an enormous headwind — and a tiny chance of being picked for the job in the end. In contrast, when interviewers take the time to interview multiple diverse candidates in a fair and competitive process, the dynamic shifts norms and expectations, and creates a situation in which a diverse candidate is much more likely to end up winning the position.”

The next time you’re kicking off an interview process, reduce the headwind for underrepresented candidates. Insist on bringing in more than one of any underrepresented group to interview for the role.

5. Get “Better Allies” for your team with our new bulk pricing

Because we received many inquiries for bulk discounts for “Better Allies,” we partnered with a large, worldwide business book distributor. You can now place bulk orders for both the hardcover and paperback editions here.

We’d be totally okay with you ordering a copy for everyone on your team. 🤗

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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