Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

5 Ally Actions | Jul 13, 2018

Each week, we share five simple steps to take to create a more inclusive workplace.

1. Confront the harasser, even if they’re a client

How do you handle a lucrative client harassing one of your employees? Maybe assign someone else to that account to avoid the confrontation? While that might be best for preserving the revenue stream, it actually punishes the victim. By removing her from the account, you might prevent her from hitting quarterly targets. You might set back her career.

Better would be to confront the client and request they assign someone else to work with you. As reported by the Wall St Journal, some companies, including Cisco, are following this best practice. Others, like Astra Zeneca, take an even bolder step and drop the client.

Thanks to Katy Preen for bringing this article to our attention.

2. Add questions to your engagement survey to evaluate how harassment is handled

Many tech companies run regular culture or engagement surveys to take the pulse of the organization and provide insight to managers about their effectiveness as leaders. But how many are using these surveys to ask questions about how harassment is handled?

As we learned in “Most People Are Supportive of #MeToo. But Will Workplaces Actually Change?” by Candace Bertotti and David Maxfield, to change culture we should hold leaders accountable. They recommend asking employees to rate their agreement with the following statements:

  • If I were harassed, I’m confident that I could safely report it and be treated with respect and fairness.
  • Leaders in my department make it clear that they will not tolerate harassment or assault in any form.
  • If I were at risk of being harassed, I’m confident my colleagues would intervene and stand up for me.

Forward these questions to whomever is responsible for your company’s engagement survey. Tell them you want to evaluate how you and the entire organization responds to harassment. And that you want to get better.

3. Recognize when calls for civility are actually attempts to quell change

Imagine being in a meeting and hearing a raised voice say, “I’m pissed off about that last comment. It’s offensive.” And then hearing someone reply, “Now, now, let’s be civil here.”

In “How calls for ‘civility’ are harming tech companies,” Valerie Aurora dives into tone policing. I.e., when someone derails the conversation and changes the topic to criticizing the “tone” of the argument. In many cases, when someone is calling out “tone,” they are really objecting to something that might make them feel bad about their own bias.

Let’s all do our best to recognize when calls for civility are actually attempts to quell change. And push back.

4. Don’t use a “Female Relationship Résumé” as a proxy for allyship

To be an ally is to take action. To not be satisfied with the status quo that marginalizes women and other underrepresented minorities in the tech workplace. To show support and make change.

Yet men in positions of power are pulling out their “Female Relationship Résumé” as a proxy for their support for women. “As the father of daughters…” or “Because of my trailblazing mother…” or “My source of strength is my wife…” Unfortunately, none of these relationships imply being an ally.

Better would be a “Diversity & Inclusion Résumé” that describes the systemic changes they’ve put in place to create equality, and the resulting positive impact.

Read more in “What men are trying to say when they show off their Female Relationship Résumé” by Monica Hesse.

5. Raise awareness of non-inclusive behavior with our new mini-poster

A few weeks ago, we published, “When You Hear _______, Pay Attention.” It’s a handy list of phrases that should be red flags to anyone who wants an inclusive workplace. Things that should grab your attention and make you push back, ask follow-up questions, and take a stand for equality.

Because it was so popular, we turned it into a mini-poster. Download it, print it, post it. Raise awareness of non-inclusive behavior. Start a conversation.

Mini-poster version of “When you Hear ___, Pay Attention”

One last thing

We have to admit we love getting fan mail. A few days ago, we received this one:

“love! Love! LOVE! Your newsletter for myriad reasons. So well done. I need to read all the back issues!”

Feeling the same way? You can find our archives here.

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

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