mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - Better Allies

Next up on the Manager Reads is Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin.

Who recommended the book? Katrina Jones, Twitch’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion, recommended we read this book for the Twitch Leadership Book Club. The club focuses on reading books aimed at leveling up everyone’s - not just managers - leadership and management skills. We’ve gone through a lot of books but never one focused on practicing better allyship so everyone was really excited to check this one out.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The cover of Better Allies is straightforward: the title is strong and red, the subtitle presented in a more subtle black font, a hero image of many cogs, and the author’s name in red. The family of cogs fits in with the endgoal of more diverse and inclusive workplaces: stronger workplaces that win more. The t character of this typeface is interesting and very right-leaning. Inside the book, I realize most books I read have off-white colored pages because the pages in Better Allies are bright white. The pages are thin but the font size and generous line spacing make for a pleasant reading experience.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? Better Allies provides a comprehensive overview of what allyship is and the actions people can do to be a better ally. My favorite part of the ally overview was the various roles covered: Sponsor, Champion, Amplifier, Advocate, Scholar, Upstander, and Confidant. These provide a simple and memorable framework for how to be a better ally.

The action-focused chapters cover areas like meetings, hiring, office housework, everyday language, feedback, and career development. For every area concrete actions are provided making this book more than one you would read and place on the bookshelf to collect dust, but rather a reference you can use in the future as you aim to level up your allyship.

One step I took after reading the Hiring Practices chapter was to clean up the list of requirements for our mobile engineer roles. Better Allies recommends having no more than five job requirements. Twitch’s mobile engineer roles now have only four requirements. Opting to take actions like this instead of the trite “it’s a pipeline problem” scapegoat is what will get make our workplaces more diverse.

Favorite quote from the book? “When called on to speak, allies use their privilege to ensure that more voices have a turn at the mic.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Diverse and inclusive workplaces are more successful workplaces. Getting there isn’t and doesn’t have to be daunting; one action at a time we can build more engaging environments where everyone can succeed. Read this book and then start doing!

Notes in Evernote? This book is packed with practical things anyone can start doing to be a better ally. Feel free to review my notes on 🐘 to get an overview of these tips.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.