TED : Ideas worth spreading

Review: 3 ways to be a better ally in the workplace

Speaker: Melinda Epler
TEDSalon: Brightline Initiative
Date: June 2018
Location: New York, NY

Description from TED website:
We’re taught to believe that hard work and dedication will lead to success, but that’s not always the case. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation are among the many factors that affect our chances, says writer and advocate Melinda Epler, and it’s up to each of us to be allies for those who face discrimination. In this actionable talk, Epler shares three ways to support people who are underrepresented in the workplace. “There’s no magic wand for correcting diversity and inclusion,” she says. “Change happens one person at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time.”


Select the image to go to the actual video.

My Review / Notes / Thoughts

She mentions “Microaggressions” which occur in the workplace and often in toxic work environments. The description she provides of microaggressions is “everyday slights, insults, negative verbal and nonverbal messages – whether intentional or not – that impede your ability to do your work well.”

“Change happens one person at a time, one act a time, one word at a time.”

Her message is short but powerful. If you’ve ever worked in a job where you were belittled, ignored, talked over, or had to deal with microaggressions, her message is worth listening to…possibly more than once!

“Allyship is about understanding that imbalance in opportunity and working to correct it.”

Her three points on how to be a better ally are excellent starting points, and as she mentions in her speech when allyship flourishes in the company, the diversity and inclusion programs are strengthened. And it has been shown through numerous studies, that teams that are diverse and inclusive are smarter and more innovative than those that are not.

Three ways (per the video) on how to be a better ally:

  1. Start by doing no harm.
    – give people full attention
    – don’t interrupt
    – echo & attribute
    – learn the language
    – listen & learn
  2. Advocate for underrepresented people in small ways.
    – intervene
    – invite to speak
    – refer & encourage
    – normalize allyship
  3. Change someone’s life significantly.
    – Education, Hiring, Promotion, Leadership (the “Glass Ceiling”)
    – mentor or sponsor
    – volunteer
    – transform your team & your company

If you are not sure about how to engage in any of these areas, go watch the video for yourself. She mentions various ideas on how to implement these concepts. Of course, spreading the word and helping to educate others around you is always a good start.

“[W]hen we’re there for each other, when we support one another, we thrive together. And when we thrive, we build better teams, better products and better companies.”

Thank you for taking the time to read (and hopefully watch the video), and I hope that this message is one you will spread.