Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

5 Ally Actions | June 15, 2018

Man offering a helping hand to a female rock climber at sunset

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

1. Use inclusive language such as “partner” or “spouse” versus “wife” or “husband”

Because it’s Pride Month, there’s more discussion than usual about supporting LGBTQ co-workers. We especially appreciated this infographic from Catalyst to help us all remember that words matter and that we can make a difference in creating environments where people feel they belong.

One simple suggestion? During everyday conversation, use inclusive language such as “partner” or “spouse” versus “wife” or “husband.” Doing so can help LGBTQ colleagues feel more comfortable bringing their full selves to work.

2. Don’t evaluate candidates solely on their GitHub portfolio

This week, we noticed a series of tweets about privilege, especially around having spare time to work on open source coding projects. And how potential employers can evaluate such work via GitHub, which tracks contributions to public coding repositories (or “repos”).

Here’s the original tweet:

To which Erica Baker responded,

And then there was Scott Hanselman’s reply:

(Note: Scott sent a second tweet, correcting a typo. He meant to say “But it’s NOT a resume.”)

Right on. Allies, let’s be aware of how privilege can impact the criteria we’re using to evaluate candidates. And for more tips about privilege, read Understanding the journey.

3. Give ’em stretch assignments

This week, HBR published an article with insight on why women stay in engineering. TL;DR? It’s because of the stretch assignments.

“Challenging and higher-level responsibilities not only helped women to develop confidence in their potential but also enhanced their social networks and profiles within the organization.”

The next time we need someone to stand in for us on an initiative, or take on a challenging new assignment, let’s all think of an underrepresented minority or woman to ask.

4. Mentor a person of color

3%. That’s the portion of black workers in technical jobs at eight of the largest U.S. tech companies, according to this Bloomberg article. And little has changed from three years ago, when the representation was just 2.5%.

While the situation is complex, one factor could be that black workers feel left out of “the club.” Not included in key networking activities, not in the loop on important discussions, not having influential friends who can recommend their work.

One thing we all can do is mentor a person of color at our company. Not sure where to start? If you have a black employee group, reach out to their steering committee and ask for advice about next steps.

5. Don’t assume good intent

When someone raises a concern about biased or sexist behavior, how many of us respond with a positive spin? “I don’t think they meant to offend you.” Or something similar.

This is called “assuming good intent.” And it turns out that it can undermine diversity and inclusion. Why? Because you are, in effect, minimizing that person’s feelings or experiences.

We appreciate the way Annalee compares experiencing bias to having your foot stepped on, not just once, but every single day of your life. At what point would you stop assuming good intention by the people stepping on your feet?

Be sure to read her article. It made us stop and think. How about you?

One last thing

A few days ago, we received a nice email from a Stanford MBA student, who wrote, “I love this newsletter!!!”

That meant a lot to us. And we want to reach more readers — future leaders as well as today’s tech workers. Please help spread the word about our “5 Ally Actions” newsletter. Send an email to colleagues. Post a link to it on Slack. Mention it in everyday conversation.

Many thanks, our friends.

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

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