We’re Allie and we’re on a mission to make diversity and inclusion accessible for everyone at your company.
We help companies build inclusive workplace culture and we’re starting with microaggressions.
The current landscape
We’ve seen extreme versions of non-inclusive culture and bias play out in the press lately, especially in tech. In the past two weeks alone, there’s been an endless drumbeat of negative articles — from pervasive issues at Uber to problems in venture capital and accelerators. It’s clear that there’s a problem and that people are finally talking about it and pushing for change.
The industry has been awash with chatter on how to stop harassment — we’ve seen think pieces proposing the decency pledge, reviewing codes of conduct or bringing in external investigators. It finally feels like we’re at a tipping point. People are upset and hungry for answers and solutions and real change.
These are egregious examples where bad behavior was left unchecked for far too long. Further compounding the problem is the power imbalance dynamics at play.
So how can we help companies set up proactive systems to surface issues before they become bigger problems?
What we’ve seen
Over the past few months, we’ve talked to people throughout the tech and diversity and inclusion ecosystem. We’ve done in-depth interviews with HR leaders, diversity and inclusion consultants and practitioners, internal diversity champions and volunteers, employee resource group members and leaders, managers and allies, investors and accelerators.
We noticed that the first thing most companies think of when it comes to diversity is hiring — increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities. But without parallel efforts to make their culture more inclusive, they struggle to retain these employees.
Or as noted diversity consultant Verna Myer puts it,
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Employee turnover costs the tech industry $16B each year. The most common reason people leave jobs is perceived unfairness, which impacts women and people of color more. This unfairness shows in two main ways — a lack of career opportunities and a lack of respect. With Allie, we are starting with the respect issue and specifically, microaggressions.
What’s a microaggression?
Microaggressions are seemingly minor slights directed at underrepresented groups — they’re usually not intended to be offensive but often have that impact.
One example is asking a person of color where they are really from. The person asking the question may simply be curious, but for the receiver, it’s a subtle reminder that they don’t belong here. Check out Tanzina Vega’s thoughtful take over at CNN about this issue and for why she’s not being “sensitive” about it.
Another common example is interruptions. Women are disproportionately interrupted compared to men. Transcripts from the Supreme Court show that the female justices are interrupted three times more than the male justices.
Microaggressions are symptoms of bigger cultural problems at work — symptom of unconscious bias or non-inclusive culture. To further complicate things, these issues don’t come up until it’s too late — during performance reviews or exit interviews. Employees don’t want to be labeled “sensitive” or “difficult,” especially if they’re already different.
Ultimately, if employees don’t feel like they belong or their voice isn’t heard, they can’t be fully motivated or engaged to do their best work.
Microreporting for microaggressions
Allie provides a safe space for employees to raise issues or ask questions. They can self-report microaggressions by sending Allie a direct message and replying to a series of questions. They can also get tips on how to address in the future. Companies then receive aggregated data and trends so that they can proactively improve culture.
At Allie, we believe that everyone has a role in creating inclusive workplace culture. Diversity and inclusion should be:
Accessible. We’re proud to be a Slack first company — we integrate directly in employee workflow so users can access and reference resources at any time. We also offer microtraining to make diversity and inclusion approachable. Our D&I 101 course provides the language and tools so that people can have the conversation. We’ve seen many employees not participate because they don’t know how and don’t want to offend.
Actionable. Through our interviews, we’ve found that some employees know what diversity is, most know why it’s important, but no one knows what to do about it — they think it’s HR’s job. But everyday interactions make up your company culture. Non-inclusive behavior (even unintentional) can have a negative impact if no one does anything. Allie provides tools so everyone can play their part.
Data-driven. Initiatives should be prioritized based on employee feedback and implemented with measurable goals. By identifying how employees really feel, you can either build on existing enthusiasm and momentum or hone in on problem areas or issues. Tying initiatives to metrics and goals allows you to track progress and measure how successful your efforts truly are.
If you’re a progressive company interested in joining our beta, we’d love to work with you to lead the industry.