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Everyday Actions to Be a Better Ally


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Have you ever thought, "I care about a more diverse and inclusive workplace, but what can I do?” If so, you’re not alone. Knowing how to be a better ally for underrepresented people working in tech is unfamiliar territory for many of us. In this session for AWS Re:Invent 2018, Karen Catlin discusses key challenges people from underrepresented backgrounds face in our tech workplaces and ways you can make a difference.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Everyday Actions to Be a Better Ally

  1. 1. © 2018, Karen Catlin. All rights reserved. EverydayActions to Be a BetterAlly Karen Catlin Advocate for Inclusive Workplaces @kecatlin W P T 2 0 2 - S
  2. 2. “60% Of Women In Silicon Valley Have Been Sexually Harassed” “Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders?” “Tech Leavers Study: Tech is a hostile work environment if you’re not a straight white dude” “Google engineer's anti-diversity manifesto sparks outrage”
  3. 3. @betterallies
  4. 4. Goals 1. Increase awareness 2. Learn everyday actions to create a more inclusive workplace
  5. 5. I want a diverse and inclusive workplace because .
  6. 6. Got it. But what can I do?
  7. 7. Networking
  8. 8. “Justlikeme” networks
  9. 9. Common interestsfuel networks
  10. 10. Outsideof work…
  11. 11. Unconscious demotions
  12. 12. Homogeneous networks limitdiversity • Hiring • Information Sharing • Workplace trust Stretch assignments Promotions Reorgs Succession plans
  13. 13. Actions for BetterAllies:Diversifyyour network • Introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t look like you • Don’t give unconscious demotions • Pro-tip:When meeting someone at a tech event, assume they’re technical • Attend events for underrepresented groups, to listen, learn, and network
  14. 14. Meetings
  15. 15. Manterruptions
  16. 16. Bro-propriations
  17. 17. 88% of women report having questions directed to men that should have been addressed to them.
  18. 18. Actions for BetterAllies:Amplify &Advocate • Stop interruptions “I’d like to hear Emma finish her thought.” • Cultivate a culture of credit “I see you agree with the pointWillie made earlier.” “Here’s what I learned fromAna aboutAWS.” • Redirect misdirected questions “Mei’s the expert. Let’s ask her.”
  19. 19. Feedback
  20. 20. “People like working with you.” “You are effective at building team consensus.You successfully resolved which features to prioritize in our last sprint, leading us to ship the product on time.” 👩 • Less feedback tied to business outcomes • Shorter reviews 👨 • Offered a clearer picture of how to get to the next level What to keep doing What to improve
  21. 21. 👩 • Described as “supportive,” “collaborative” and “helpful” 2x as men • 76% of references of being “too aggressive” • 2x references to team vs individual accomplishments 👨 • Reviews included words like “drive,” “transform,” “innovate” and “tackle” 2x as women • 3x feedback tied to biz outcome • 2x references to tech expertise • More likely to be told where to grow technically
  22. 22. Raise your hand if you agree I seldom hesitate to give difficult feedback.
  23. 23. 66% of managers seldom hesitate to give difficult feedback to men & women Employees who say they receive difficult feedback sometimes, often, or very often 👩 36% 👨 46%
  24. 24. Thedreaded tissuebox
  25. 25. 43% 25% 16% 16% 15% 35% 25% 17% 14% 6% Concerned about seeming mean or hurtful Don’t want them to dislike me Concerned about an outburst Concerned I’ll seem biased or prejudiced Concerned about emotional breakdown Men Women
  26. 26. Actions for BetterAllies:GiveEqual Feedback • Focus on business impact, what to keep doing, and how to improve • Give direct feedback Pro-tip: Don’t ease up to avoid hurt feelings. • Share the expertise you see in them, and suggest new skills to learn • Write reviews of the same length
  27. 27. Office Housework
  28. 28. 47% of women report being asked to do lower-level tasks that men are not asked to do.
  29. 29. Women of color are tasked with more office housework than white colleagues Photo courtesy of #WOCintechchat
  30. 30. Administrative Take notes Schedule a meeting Order food, make reservations Undervalued Train interns Write unit tests Clean up source code comments Join a committee or site council
  31. 31. Photo courtesy of #WOCintechchat • Puts us in a subservient role • Takes time away from important work • Interrupts “flow” • Prevents us from making killer points Impact of Office Housework
  32. 32. Actions for BetterAllies:DisruptOffice Housework • Set up rotations for administrative tasks • Share the load “Deepa’s great at mentoring, but it’s the perfect stretch assignment for Nick.” • Volunteer yourself “I’ll bring the left-overs to the kitchen.”
  33. 33. We all have a role to play to create more inclusive workplaces
  34. 34. How far are you willing to go to be a better ally?
  35. 35. @betterallies coming in early 2019
  36. 36. Thank you! © 2018, Amazon Web Services, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Karen Catlin @kecatlin @betterallies