Don’t Pick “Mini-Me” Mentees and Other Actions for Allies

1. Don’t pick “mini-me” mentees

Earlier this week, Bloomberg published the results of a research study that shows 71% of mentors surveyed have mentees of the same gender and race as themselves.

Allies, let’s all respond to that next email from someone who is different from us who’s seeking our advice. Tell the women’s group at our company that we’re available to be a mentor. Volunteer through a formal mentoring program and request someone from a different demographic.

Let’s not be part of that 71% who only have “mini-me” mentees.

2. Look deep and look often when identifying talent

Stretch assignments can help employees increase their confidence, enhance social networks, and build credibility across an organization. As a result, they can help retain people from underrepresented groups. These challenging or prominent assignments may even keep talent like engineers from dropping out of the field completely. Here’s why.

When identifying talent for stretch assignments, promotions, or other cool new opportunities, we should be looking deep and looking often.

Image of binoculars with text “When identifying talent for stretch assignments, promotions, or other cool new opportunities, I look deep and I look often”

(Shout out to Catalyst who shared this tip in their Be Inclusive Every Day infographic.)

3. Use inclusive language

Language is powerful, and, let’s face it, shifts regularly to adapt to current events, trends, needs, and so forth. Words used in the past may no longer be the right ones to use today.

This week, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of the newly elected California governor, announced that she’ll go by the title of “first partner” instead of “first lady.” It’s a simple yet significant step to advance gender equality and normalize the use of “partner” to describe a domestic relationship.

Here’s a challenge: If you’re married and typically describe your spouse as “ my wife” or “my husband,” try saying “my partner” for a week.

Or choose another gendered term to focus on. And spend a week using a more inclusive alternative. It could become a nice habit.

4. Take sexual harassment seriously

Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research recently published When Leaders Take Sexual Harassment Seriously, So Do Employees in the Harvard Business Review.

As they wrote, “The high costs of sexual harassment are evident, from employee outrage to the loss of worker productivity and employee attrition. One study estimated that for each employee who was sexually harassed, the company lost an average of $22,500 in costs associated with just lost productivity. Yet, solutions are hard to come by.”

But here’s the thing. Their research uncovered a single step that leaders can take to help reduce sexual harassment: Communicate to employees that preventing it is a high-priority issue for their companies.

Can you say this about your company? If not, what steps will you take to make preventing harassment a high-priority?

5. Buy the Better Allies book

A big shout-out to our founder, Karen Catlin, who just published a book based on the @BetterAllies approach. It’s filled with loads of everyday actions you’ve come to expect from us, along with research summaries and anecdotal stories to bring it all alive.

Get your copy on Amazon. While you’re at it, buy one for a colleague, too. We bet you know someone who could use some ideas on how to level-up their ally skills and help create a more inclusive workplace.

Picture of the Better Allies book cover

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