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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

Posted on • Updated on

How to be a better Ally in 2022

It’s the time of resolutions and of making plans. If you haven't already, I suggest putting some empathy on your to-do list - along with all the promising new tech gimmicks you want to try in the New Year.

It’s, just as all the other resolutions, much easier said than done. But times are gloomy and we need to watch out for each other. Now more than ever. If you are still wondering how to be a better ally, here are some ideas. If you got some tips of your own, please add them to the comments - there simply can’t be enough exchange about this in my humble opinion.

You might be lucky and privileged and not struggle a whole lot in certain areas of your life. That’s great for you. Seriously. But don’t expect your experience to be universal. If someone makes you aware of an issue they are facing, listen. Believe them. It already takes a lot of courage to address issues you are facing as a minority - try to understand and if you can’t, at least tolerate. Support them, if you can. It might be easier for me as a woman to get involved in fighting for women’s rights - but it will always help greatly if men get involved as well. Issues of people of color need to be supported by white folks as well. Able-bodied people’s support of accessibility initiatives is important. The list continues. It might not be your problem, but it can be your fight, regardless.

Who could do this better than you?
If you are one of the lucky few who have access to the places where important decisions are made in your organization, use it wisely. Reflect on your own biases. Who are you putting in charge and why? Folks like you? That guy who went to the same college as you? The one that lives down the street from you (aka in the fancy neighborhood)? Make an effort to challenge these decisions and dare to trust people who usually get overlooked. Say their names in meetings. Reference their work, their effort, make them visible. You won’t regret it.

Who is getting in (and why)?
Check out your company's job ads. How listings are phrased often heavily influences who applies. Who is interviewing and how? Do you do take home tech challenges? Pair programming? Can applicants shape the process? How flexible is the scheduling of these interviews? And how time-intensive? I wouldn’t decline a job offer if I only interviewed with male representatives from a company, but I would notice. I might not be as comfortable. I might get very intimidated and perform differently. Reviewing this process can help understand (among other things) why some groups are minorities within an organization and why it’s difficult to ‘find’ or keep them.

Do your research.
Don’t expect folks from marginalized or underrepresented groups to educate you. It’s not their job. Diversify your social media feeds if you spend a lot of time online. Read. Listen. Reflect on what you are consuming and challenge it. It’s great to be curious but maybe think twice before asking possible sensitive or personal matters. You can google specific terminology first, instead of asking that one person you know who might be part of a specific minority (Like for example why it’s a great idea to add your pronouns to your profile or whether or not it’s ok to ask people where they are from).

Most of us avoid the unknown. It’s uncomfortable. Dare to linger where it gets a bit awkward. This is just as true for a conversation with a colleague you might never really chat with as well as people you perceive as ‘different’. Get to know them. Ask about their weekend. Their pet. Their favorite movie. Maybe by learning something personal about them and getting to know each other, you can both understand a little better what shapes their life. Their struggles. And probably find that you are not so different after all - and how you can support each other.

Top comments (1)

raibtoffoletto profile image
Raí B. Toffoletto

"It might not be your problem, but it can be your fight". ❤️❤️