Posts Tagged ‘team’
Everyone is interested in improving the workplace relative to inclusion, diversity, and equality across many dimensions. Research continues to show that many of the challenges experienced by team members are rooted in the combination of unconscious bias or routine communication approaches that might date back to our earliest development. There are many tools and skills available for everyone (!) to do better and I wanted to share some that I recently experienced. Openness to the variety of tools available is a first step in improving the workplace.
This week I participated in one such workshop, The Ally Skills Workshop, created by the Ada Initiative. The workshop was held at Slack and facilitated by Leigh Honeywell. She works at Slack and is also an advisor to the Ada Initiative who has facilitated this workshop many times. Having participated in a large number of related trainings and workshops over the years, I wanted to offer this one as a low-cost, lightweight, and at the same time highly valuable tool for groups. I believe it is especially relevant and appropriate to the < 50 person startup environment, though of course broadly applicable (and used at many large SV companies).
It isn’t appropriate or possible to recap an experiential workshop. The mechanics of Ally Skills are straight forward. In groups of 15-40 people (men are the primary target but groups of all kinds are encouraged) the facilitator guides the group through 2-3 hours of scenario-based discussions in breakouts and then group dialog. It is very straight forward, low-risk, and eye-opening. For those worried about something being too “heavy” or “HR”, the creators of this workshop are engineers with a great history in technology companies so you can be assured the tone is right.
The resources including facilitator training are all available via Creative Commons on the Ada Initiative site. The Initiative is going through a transition now and soon more information will be available for how you can directly contact the right people for obtaining this training for your company or group. You can contact Valerie Aurora for more information.
The Ally Workshop slides, the presenter guide, as well as a video of the class being taught are all available: http://adainitiative.org/what-we-do/workshops-and-training/.
While I have your attention on this topic, I wanted to share some other resources that I picked up at the workshop this week courtesy Leigh:
- Planning an offsite? Here’s a guide to inclusive offsites that originated at Google and is available via Creative Commons: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Inclusive_offsites
- Need tips on inclusive event planning? Here’s a collection of resources compile from the experiences at AdaCamp gatherings for making sure you are thinking holistically about inclusion https://adacamp.org/. This covers everything from catering, registering, planning and more.
- More blog resources? There are tons of blogs and resources out there and here are a few that I would recommend checking out: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com, http://geekfeminism.org/, http://captainawkward.com/.
One super interesting article that Leigh mentioned is a research paper from 1970 about the “Tyranny of Structureless”. I think this is a remarkably relevant work to consider given today’s oft-expressed view that the absence of structure and process is the way to avoid bias and discrimination (TL;DR—the opposite is the case).
All of us should always be in a learning mode when it comes to forming teams and building products that represent the very best work of everyone contributing. I would encourage everyone at every stage in their career to be on the lookout for new tools and techniques or new perspectives that each of us can put to use. No matter where you are in your career or how aware you are of your own behavior, there’s always learning to be done.