When I started in the games industry I was naïve. I thought it was a meritocracy, that we all had a chance at success. We didn’t.
As the years passed, I saw more and more (and younger) men pass me by, getting the jobs, having a much easier time of it.
A man would never have to prove he knew what he was talking about. I would, over and over. A man would never have to justify his existence in the office. I would.
What has hurt the most though, is not having to constantly field the distrust and questions around competency. It’s about all those times when I could have used an ally, and there were none. All those times when a man could have spoken up for me, and never did. When I and my career needed someone to speak up, but they were silent.
Allyship is not just about belief. It is also about sacrifice and risk. I wish men would see that. But in my experience, the thing to expect is silence and maybe a sad e-mail about “I wish I could have learned more from you” or “can we still keep in touch and be friends?”.
- If a woman, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary person in your workplace is being treated unfairly and you see it, speak up.1
- Put a stop to sexist, transphobic, or homophobic jokes, even when someone who might feel uncomfortable around them aren’t in the room. The thing is, you don’t know if they are.
- Open your mouth and support women, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary persons in meetings.
- Support women, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary persons when talking to HR.
- Dare to be uncomfortable when talking to leads.
- Protest unfair wages.
- Question your promotion if your promotion and position comes at the cost of that of a woman, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary person.
- Ask uncomfortable questions about diversity and men to underrepresented groups ratios at your company.
- At least try to find a person from an underrepresented group when you start a new company. Try.
- Question all male interview panels.
- Question all male project leadership.
- Question discussions around women, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary persons “attitudes” and see if there’s a real issue or just a tone of voice argument.
- Praise women, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary persons who are competent to other men.
- Do not let trash talk about emotionality stand.
- Protest women, Black, Asian, Latino, indigenous, trans or non-binary persons leaving the company. You can’t afford them leaving.
I’m honestly hurt by the complacency of so called allies. If you want to be a real ally it might cost you. But it will always cost the person you’re allied with more, and even more if you don’t speak up.