The One On Using Titles, Retaining Black Employees, and Other Actions for Allies

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

1. Use titles when introducing people

A recent study measured how often people used a doctor’s title to introduce them in formal clinical meetings and uncovered some gendered differences. When men introduced women, they used their formal titles 49% of the time. When introducing other men, this jumped to 72%.

In other words, these men showed more professional respect to other men. Not so much for the women. As Dr. Patricia Friedrich points out, a woman’s career advancement could be impacted as a result.

Coincidentally, people on Twitter shared some personal examples of this happening:

Folks, when introducing a speaker, use their formal title. Regardless of their gender.

P.S. We love that Dr. Friedrich acknowledged a lack of comparable research beyond the male-female binary.

“We urgently need to find out how gender bias, in language and elsewhere, affects medical professionals who identify as nonbinary, genderqueer, and transgender.”

2. Take action to retain Black employees

The Center for Talent Innovation released a report Being Black in Corporate America with the perhaps not-so-surprising results that today’s diversity and inclusion efforts are failing African-American professionals.

While the report is chock full of insights, it also includes a list of solutions that will most likely help retain Black employees. As you read the following list, ask yourself which one (or ones) you can impact at your company.

  • Clear expectations for inclusive behavior
  • Provide funding to attend external conferences for people of color
  • A positive reputation around diversity and inclusion
  • In-person bias awareness training
  • Clear communication of how promotions work
  • Moderated forums for conversations about race
  • The CEO/President is committed to diversity and inclusion
  • Hire diverse suppliers
  • Accountability for harassment, regardless of an employee’s seniority or performance
  • Senior leaders who are people of color

3. Ask soon-to-be dads WHEN they’ll take their leave

In Men Say They Want Paid Leave but Then Don’t Use All of It. What Stops Them?, Claire Caine Miller shares,

“When balancing work and family becomes difficult, women tend to resort to caregiving and men to earning money.”

Even if men are eligible for parental leave or other caregiving benefits, they tend to prioritize work over being at home. This may be due to societal pressure to be the breadwinner. Or they may not want to leave their team in a lurch.

As a result, women take more caregiving leave than men, which creates a long-term problem. “Women end up doing more of the caregiving later on, too, and this unequal division of labor drives the gender pay gap and stalls women’s career advancement.”

We love this advice from Dr. David Smith:

“It’s clearly not enough to have #paidleave. We have to change workplace culture/norms to encourage & expect men to take parental leave. As a manager, instead of asking if or how much leave an employee will take, ask when they plan to take their leave.”

Spot on.

4. Be an upstander for women at conferences

Jake Williams, an information security professional, shared this truth bomb: Women at conferences can feel like prey. Not that they just feel unsafe, but that they are feeling hunted.

This begs the question…what can you do at the next conference you attend to make sure women feel welcome, safe, and secure? If you notice someone being harassed or just looking uncomfortable, it could be as simple as inserting yourself into a conversation with a comment like, “Hi! What are you folks discussing?” Then check in with the person privately. Ask if they are okay and if they want you to say something.

5. Tap event sponsors for speakers from underrepresented groups

If you’re putting on a conference or hosting a meetup, chances are you have sponsors. Sure, you’re counting on their financial support, but why not ask for a no-cost favor? Ask them to help you identify speakers from underrepresented groups. Here are two tips for doing so:

Ask sponsors if they know of speakers who can bring diversity to your speaker lineup, and why this is important. For example, “We want to hear from [underrepresented group] because they will bring interesting perspectives on the topic” or “We want our panel of experts that will represent the demographics of our customers.”

When asking a sponsor for a speaker, do a bit of research on LinkedIn and see if you can spot a few people who seem like a good fit for your event. Surface their names in your email. “I was researching your company and noticed your employee, [employee name]. Her background is just what we’re looking for. We’d love to have her as a speaker if she’d be willing.”

* See you again in the new year

This is our last newsletter for 2019. We’re taking a few weeks off, and we’ll be back in your inboxes in early January.

If you’ve seen Karen speak about Better Allies…

You know she loves weaving stories throughout her talk. Would you want to level up your storytelling game for your next talk, project update, or pitch? Karen and her colleague Poornima Vijayashanker have a brand new course on LinkedIn Learning called “Presenting Technical Information with Stories,” and you can check it out here.

Note: You’ll need to have a subscription to LinkedIn Learning. If you don’t have one, you can start a free trial, and then watch the course. It’s about 30 minutes long — the perfect length for learning during lunch or a coffee/tea break.

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

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✉️ This content originally appeared in our newsletter, 5 Ally Actions. Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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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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