Tip 7: Talk to other potential allies

The situation:

Often people are hesitant to get involved in diversity efforts because they are too busy or they are afraid of doing or saying something “wrong.” Research shows that real-life stories can help with this problem and motivate people to act! Share your own experiences as a male ally or as a member of an underrepresented group. While the “business case” can help to get new allies theoretically on board with industry changes, it often takes personal stories to move people to action.

What you can do:

  • Talk about the kinds of challenges underrepresented groups encounter in IT. Share your personal experiences as a person in a minority position or talk about your experiences as a male or majority group ally.
  • Share a research finding you found interesting or a solution you or others have tried.
  • Emphasize that it is okay to make mistakes and take risks to have a conversation. Sometimes people are afraid to have a conversation because they might “say something wrong” but endeavoring to have the conversation, even if it has awkward moments, is important.
  • If someone makes a mistake or says something problematic, always assume best intentions. Remember this is not about blame but about us all working together to correct these biases. Acknowledge their effort and explain how they might improve their approach in the future.
  • If you are afraid of making a mistake or are corrected for making a mistake, do not take it personally. Remember that underrepresented groups are often responding to repeated and longtime experiences with bias, sometimes on an almost daily bias. This can be exhausting. Approach the conversation with a spirit of inquiry. Express an interest in understanding more and in improving your approach in the future.

More information on having these conversations and enlisting more allies, available here.

Make it okay to make mistakes and learn!

“Every person that becomes an advocate had to go through that door where they take the first risk and realize, ‘Oh, that wasn’t so bad.’ So I would talk about the risk-taking that you take the first or second time and how, all of a sudden, it is no longer risk-taking.”
~ Interviewee from NCWIT’s Male Ally and Advocate Research


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