Each week, we share five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.
1. Forfeit your spot if the lineup is too male (or pale)
Upon realizing he’d been named to a Top 30 Management Professionals list, Tom Peters took a look at the other winners and tweeted:
@wsbexperience @DanielPink @JosephEStiglitz I think 4 women out of 30 means the judges weren’t looking hard enough or casting a broad enough net. Minimum 10 F next year, and I’ll forfeit my spot.
This is how you do it, people.
2. Feature a diversity of people in slide decks and other media
We’ve said it before, and we’re saying it again. When using stock photos, feature a diversity of people. It may be understated, but the simple act of using stock photos that feature people of color and other underrepresented groups makes a difference. Seeing someone who looks like you on a company’s careers page, in the promotions for a conference or event, or in a presentation deck is a clear signal that people who look like you belong. Representation matters.
And we just learned about a new collection by Canva, featuring women in their natural state. The photos are of women who are usually excluded from the media’s representation of “natural beauty.” Bonus: it’s free, and you can use the images within Canva or download them for other uses.
For more stock photo sites that feature members of underrepresented groups, we’ve got some recommendations on the Better Allies website.
3. Give credit, even if (or especially if) that person isn’t well-known
This week, author Stephen King tweeted:
My wife is rightly pissed by headlines like this: "Stephen King and his wife donate $1.25M to New England Historic Genealogical Society." The gift was her original idea, and she has a name: TABITHA KING. Her response follows.
Allies, let’s be sure to give credit to the person who originated an idea. Regardless of whether someone else now working on the idea is better known within our company, our industry, or worldwide.
4. Use inclusive language in marketing and advertising
During the Oscars, Nike released a powerful new “Just do it” ad. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth watching.
While we’re fans of the ad, and definitely support female athletes and other women daring to do what was thought impossible, we wish Nike had used more inclusive language. Specifically, the ad uses the word “crazy” ten times. Ten times!
Wondering why that’s a big deal? Using “crazy” in casual conversation can diminish the experience of people who live with mental health conditions.
A simple and equally powerful alternative would have been to use “outrageous” instead.
5. Redirect misdirected questions
In the 2017 “Elephant in the Valley” survey, hundreds of women working in tech positions were polled. And 88 percent said they had seen a question directed toward a male colleague when they themselves were the most qualified person in the meeting to answer it. And it’s not just men who are guilty of this, because people of all gender identities are taught to assume that men naturally hold more power.
Chances are good that misdirected questions surface in meetings at your company, too. As an ally, redirect the question to the most qualified person. All it takes is a simple “Deepa is the expert on that topic. Let’s hear from her” or “Ann wrote the API. She’s the best person to answer your question.”
Being an ally is a journey. Want to join us?
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Together, we can — and will — make a difference.
Actions to Diversify Listicles, Slide Decks, Ads, and More was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.