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Responding to Workplace Harassment, Complimenting Co-Workers, and Increasing the Odds that Women…

Responding to Workplace Harassment, Complimenting Co-Workers, and Increasing the Odds that Women Will Join Your Team

5 Ally Actions | Aug 3, 2018

Photo by Jeff Giles via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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

1. Say, “That was a creepy thing to do” and…

We love John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode on workplace sexual assault. In typical fashion, he balances making a serious point with a healthy dose of humor. It’s a must watch for those of us who want to be better allies.

One of our favorite takeaways is the advice John Oliver and Anita Hill give for how to act when we see workplace harassment. John recommends saying, “That was a creepy thing to do” to the harasser. Anita wisely recommends checking in with the victim, asking if they are okay and if they want us to say something. See their humorous discussion unfold in this clip.

2. Don’t blame the victim, or assassinate their character

Another important point from the John Oliver episode is about victim blaming. As he reminds us, this happened back in 1991 to Anita Hill, and unfortunately it’s still happening today.

When we hear about harassment in our workplace, let’s believe the accuser. And not blame them or assassinate their character. Full stop.

3. Also, don’t retaliate against the victim

NPR’s Marketplace looked into sexual harassment in the tech industry, and reported that almost half of employees who reported incidents faced backlash for doing so.

We can do better, people.

4. Compliment their skills, not their looks

Earlier this week, Abby Fuller, a Technical Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, tweeted a screen shot that caught our attention. It was a DM from someone who complimented her on a recent talk she gave. Sounds fine, except for the closing line: “btw you look so cute.”

Dr. Suzanne Wertheim, a linguistic anthropologist, responded, “American culture socializes people to understand women’s value as primarily in their appearance. We are consistently sexualized, placed in the domestic realm, or both. It’s a lot, and most of us would just like to do our work and be recognized for it.”

Right on. Let’s recognize and compliment our co-workers on their skills, not their looks.

5. Ensure job candidates meet an interviewer of their same gender or ethnicity

When researching hiring best practices, we came across this tip: make sure candidates meet an interviewer of their same gender or ethnicity. When Cisco did this, the odds increased about 50% that a woman would be hired for a given position, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

One last thing

Have you heard of The Muse, a website that offers career advice to millennials? This week, they syndicated our article, 50 Reasons You Might Be More Privileged Than Your Co-worker (That You’re Not Aware Of). Nice!

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

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