Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

5 Ally Actions | Jul 6, 2018

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

1. Evaluate employees on inclusive behavior

Whether your company has an annual performance review process or a more frequent check-in approach, we hope you use objective criteria to evaluate employees. To help reduce bias and be transparent about your expectations.

You know what else? We hope your criteria measures inclusive behavior. Chelsea Troy lays it out for us clearly in A Rubric for Evaluating Team Members’ Contributions to an Inclusive Culture:

  1. Do they effectively moderate meetings, encouraging all to participate, giving the floor back to anyone who is interrupted, and so on?
  2. Do they solicit opinions to understand diverse perspectives on an issue?
  3. Do they attribute others, when they’ve built on someone’s idea, learned from another person, or delivered something successfully with others’ help?
  4. Do they assume co-workers are highly capable, and not condescend by offering unsolicited or unnecessarily basic advice?
  5. Do they capitalize on disagreements, effectively leveraging multiple perspectives to find the best solution?

All five are excellent suggestions.

2. Also, evaluate potential new hires on their inclusion experience

If you’re trying to build a more inclusive environment, “it makes sense to stop letting in folks who would work against that goal.” As Jason Wong wrote in Inclusion Interviewing.

One simple way to do this is to ask candidates, “How have you (or would you) contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment?”

Allies, let’s give it a try.

3. Push back on imagery that shows women deferring to men

This week’s cautionary tale comes from Renewal SA, an urban development firm in Australia. A recent larger-than-life advertisements showed an image of a group of women listening to a man. Check it out. As you can see from their faces, it looks as thought he was mansplaining something to them.

Photo of billboard by RenewalSA showing man explaining something to group of women

Allies, let’s push back if our company wants to use images that show women deferring to men. In advertising. On internal posters. In slide decks for presentations. We can do better.

4. Graciously receive feedback about our shortcomings

Robin DiAngelo published an excerpt from her recently released book, “White Fragility; Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism.” And we haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

Dr. DiAngelo writes, “Confronted with their own shortcomings, white employees often shut down the dialogue.” What does that look like? Imagine Karen being upset about a request from Joan, her only colleague of color, to stop talking over her. Karen doesn’t understand what talking over Joan has to do with race; she is an extrovert and tends to talk over everyone. In other words, she wants to shut down the conversation instead of understanding how race might be a factor.

Or perhaps white people might try to play devil’s advocate or otherwise minimize a concern raised by a person of color, to protect themselves. (We know we’re guilty of this at times.)

Folks, if we get feedback about our behavior, we should aim to graciously receive it, reflect, and work to improve.

Be sure to read the full article, How White People Handle Diversity Training in the Workplace. You’ll think differently the next time you get feedback of any kind.

5. Cultivate friendships with people who aren’t “like” us

In The Other Diversity Dividend in this month’s Harvard Business Review, we read about the importance of building diverse friend networks. Turns out that friendships across ethnic and sexual orientation groups reduce implicit bias. And these benefits carry over to work, where expanded networks and mindsets can improve individual and organizational performance.


One last thing

Just this morning we came across this fictional piece in the Economist, Generation XX: January 2069. It’s about how the business world finally reached a milestone where 50% of CEOs are women, and what had to change along the way. As you read it, think about what actions you can take today to make such a future a reality. (The article is behind a paywall, but available for free by creating an account.)

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

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