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Bro Culture on Parade, Mentoring Women of Color, and Why You Should “Leave Loudly“

5 Ally Actions | Oct 19, 2018

Photo courtesy of RawPixel.com, via Pexels

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

1. Don’t flaunt your bro culture (unless you want to preserve it)

British talent acquisition firm Haigh Associates produced a promotional video that ended up falling short, in our eyes. It showed top performers enjoying company incentives such as playing ping pong in the office, toasting their achievements from a rooftop garden, and taking a private jet to a holiday destination. All of which is fine, except that the video featured all bros. Which makes us wonder: do only men thrive and enjoy these perks at Haigh?

Think about the subtle, or not so subtle, messages you send wherever you use video and images. In presentations and pitch decks, in your marketing collateral, in blog posts, on your website, and in any promotional videos. If you’re showing only white, male, able-bodied people, what stereotypes are you reinforcing?

2. Ask how you can amplify existing diversity efforts

In How Men Can Become Better Allies to Women, authors W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith cover a lot of ground. And while we recommend you read the full article, this one point caught our eye:

“Remember, it’s not about you. Ask women how you can amplify, not replace or usurp existing gender parity efforts. A large dose of gender humility will help here. Decades of research on prosocial (helpful) behavior reveals a stark gender difference in how it is expressed. While women often express helpfulness communally and relationally, men show helpful intentions through action-oriented behaviors. Sometimes, we need to rein this in. Refrain from taking center stage, speaking for women, or mansplaining how women should approach gender equity efforts.”

Ditto for equity initiatives for other marginalized groups as well.

3. Mentor a woman of color

While everyone can benefit from having a mentor, let’s consider how much having the right mentor could be a game-changer for a woman of color. For someone who is part of at least two marginalized groups, and who faces more challenges than her white female colleagues.

In Why leaning in has not worked for women of color by Brittney Oliver, we were inspired by the following:

“With only 3% of the C-suite held by women of color compared to 18% by white women–and a significant departure of women of color leaving corporate America, if systems are not created to hire and advance women of color now, what will our companies look like in the future?”

Allies, let’s respond to that next email from a woman of color seeking our advice. Tell the women-of-color group at our company that we’re available to be a mentor. Even a small investment of time could make a big difference to someone’s career. Plus we’ll probably learn a thing or two from the people we mentor.

4. “Leave loudly” when heading out of the office for personal reasons

We’ve all got them. Personal things that need to be done during work hours or maybe just require shutting down our laptops a bit earlier than usual. Think doctor’s appointments, internet provider hookups, children’s sporting events, and the like.

Yet, how many of us slink away from work, hoping no one notices? Each time we do so, we miss an opportunity to leave loudly and tell people why we’re heading out. To set an example that it’s okay (and frequently required) to prioritize personal needs. That we’re not just paying lip service to our flexible, family-friendly policies.

5. Use “partner” to refer to your better half

Earlier this week, tech entrepreneur Stephanie Hurlburt tweeted, “I really like it when male/female couples refer to their boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband as their partner. Plants a little seed of ‘maybe I’m in a same sex relationship’ that the person they’re talking to has to deal with till they find out the gender. Little bits of progress.”

We’re going to follow Stephanie’s suggestion. Who’s with us?

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

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