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.


Welcome to my brand new blog site. Since COVID-19 has corralled us to all be indoors and working remotely, I’ve really had to come to terms with the rut I have been in for quite a while. Let me give a bit of backstory…

I must first admit that I am a lifelong learner. I love learning new things, reaching new goals, etc. I went straight to college after high school, with the unconscious goal of finding a husband (it didn’t work). After graduating with my Bachelors of Science in Political Science, I ended up back at my parent’s home in my old bedroom…and depressed.

Because she didn’t want me just wallowing in my depression, my mother gave me an ultimatum – either get a job or go back to school.

My response? Both! I ended up getting a job at a local two-year college and also taking courses on campus (after all, that’s one of the big perks of working at a college). Despite my educational background, I landed a job in the IT department at the institution. Since I didn’t have a lot of formal education in the field, I started taking courses in that area to shore up any shortcomings I had … and I took certification exams to help provide evidence of that training.

After a few years of this, I admittedly got bored and decided to pursue the next level of my education – a Masters. I knew I wanted to stay in technology, but I didn’t want to learn more coding … so I found what I felt to be a good alternative – a Masters in Instructional Technology. I love this field because it is constantly relevant because technology is constantly changing. And, if it is constantly changing, that means that people need help learning the changes – especially people who’s full-time jobs are not in technology. I mean, who has time to keep up?

I graduated with my Masters in Instructional Technology in 2008; however, I didn’t see any promotion based on it. But soon after I graduated, the college underwent a change of sorts. You see, our institution had two technology departments …the Office of Information Technology – where I was employed, and Instructional Technology & Distance Learning. Around that time the decision was made to merge the two departments into one. Not too long after this I was given the opportunity to be one of the backups to the Learning Management System (LMS) administrator. Finally! A job that went along with my degree!

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because the institution, along with the sister institutions (we’re in a big state-wide system), decided it was time to change LMS platforms. I was able to participate in testing and critiquing the different platforms being considered, and I was on the ground floor when the final selection was made and training was offered. It was a very unique and educational experience.

Around 2012 I began considering going back to school, either for a second masters or for a doctorate. I applied to an institution for a Masters of Science in Computer Science and was accepted into the program. However, the more I considered the program and its requirements, the less interested I was in. Programming just wasn’t the niche that spoke to me, I didn’t want to remain stuck behind a monitor for the rest of my career. I did, however, want to find a way to enhance my instructional technology knowledge and experience. I wanted to find a way to grow that into helping faculty and improving the quality of courses being offered.

Based on my desires, I found a great fit in the Doctorate in Adult & Career Education and began my coursework in 2013. My logic being, if I learn how to teach to adults, then I can take my previous knowledge about technology and apply that to helping faculty better understand the technology they were using to teach and thereby improve the quality of their courses. In fact, my dissertation looked at if burnout levels in faculty affected their ability to accept technology.

During the middle of my doctoral studies my work institution went through a big change. We were to merge with another institution in the same city as us. This created a lot of turmoil and due to the added work load, caused me to slow down my progress in my doctorate. However, I persisted, and in the Spring of 2019 I successfully defended my dissertation and graduated May of 2019.

That was nearly a year ago, and I’ve been in a rut ever since. My father and I took a vacation in June, going to see family, etc. Unfortunately, we came back sick, which certainly has not helped my rut.

Photo by Dustin Tray from Pexels
Photo by Dustin Tray from Pexels

It’s as if my brain is going – you’ve hit the peak, there’s nothing left to pursue. What are you going to do now?

Between all the work from the merger and finishing my doctorate, I admit that I’m burnt out. My brain is tired. But I also have an issue with setting large goals – because my experience has been that of failure. The only goals that have succeeded for me have been educational…and if I’m burnt out from studying, what is there to focus on?

Well, I’ve had a year to “recover” and COVID-19 has forced me back into learning. After all, one of the items that we get to “work” on for work – is taking the training. I have been studying a lot on LinkedIn Learning, and I am currently watching the course of “Breaking Out of a Rut” and it seems appropriate that I force myself further out of the ruts I’m in by getting this site going.

So, on this blog I will be making an effort to:

  1. Write about things I’m learning
  2. Post reviews of different software I try
  3. Discuss my research from my doctoral studies (after all, I put a lot of work into that)
  4. Post links and other information that I find relevant to the concepts of technology & education.

So, if you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! I hope you will continue to visit and encourage. (Right now comments are turned off, but I’m debating changing that in the near future.) I hope that this site can become a resource for others trying to expand their futures as I work on expanding my own!

Some products listed are affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission if you purchase those products. Dismiss

Exit mobile version