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'Allyship' has officially entered the workplace chat

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter, where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: Allyship, the 2021 Protocol cookbook and managing holiday email.

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

What 'allyship' means in the workplace’s word of the year is “allyship.” Some might be surprised to find that prior to last month, the word was not listed on the search site. While “ally” was included, the company recognized the word “allyship” has evolved over the years to have a more nuanced and specific meaning, John Kelly, the site’s associate director of content and education, told The Associated Press. It's something many leaders within some of the largest tech companies have realized as well.

What employees expect from their places of work has evolved. Employees want support, opportunities and, well … allyship. Y-Vonne Hutchinson, CEO and founder of DEI consulting firm ReadySet, said she’s observed this increased interest in allyship in the workplace firsthand through her work in the field.

So what does allyship mean in the context of the workplace today? It’s about action and putting some “skin in the game,” Hutchinson told Protocol.

  • “It's actually a practice of continuously showing up, and showing up with humility to undo the systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, etc. that affects your colleagues who have less privilege than you every day. Moreover, when we think about being an active ally, it also means putting something on the line to help leverage that privilege. So it's not just about showing up in a way that feels comfortable, but showing up and doing something when it doesn't feel comfortable in a way that might also feel risky,” she said.
  • Hutchinson said she also encourages clients to think of themselves as accomplices. “That's a conversation we're seeing happening more and more with allyship, is that idea of pushing the envelope.”

Hutchinson said there are examples leaders can follow for promoting a culture of active allyship as we head into 2022. In her forthcoming book, “How to Talk to Your Boss About Race,” she focuses on the idea of engaging in collective action.

  • “[Think] about using your collective power to advocate for structural change, [or,] on an individual level, there's a concept of intervening when you see something go down or something that feels wrong. There's also the idea of being a sponsor — making sure you're advocating for people who aren't in the room. I think those are some of the things that you can do individually and collectively,” she said.

Protocol has spent much of the year tracking how tech leaders have promoted environments of allyship and inclusion.

So what comes next for leaders to continue being active allies for their employees?

  • “I think we're kind of at the point where we've exhausted the comfortable mechanisms. We've had two years of conversations, we've kind of had two years to do what’s comfortable, and I think we have to come to terms with the fact that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable work that has to happen to get our organizations to where they need to go to be not just inclusive and diverse, but resilient and relevant,” said Hutchinson.

Here’s what Twitter’s culinary director is cooking right now

Every year, Workplace and weird things reporter Anna Kramer asks leaders in tech what they’re cooking this holiday season. In our second annual Protocol cookbook, workers in and around the tech industry share their favorite recipes. If you don’t find something in this year’s holiday cookbook, read last year’s. If you have a recipe for next year’s cookbook, email Anna. Need more inspiration? Check out Anna’s family Instagram, where various members post pictures of the food they cook.

Read the full story here.


Michael Pryor, co-founder of Trello (now a part of Atlassian), explains what he's learned along the way and his advice for other companies that are looking to build a truly collaborative culture that keeps employees feeling connected — from wherever they choose to work.

Learn more

Today's tips & tools

It’s the last productivity tip of the year. I’ve been wracking my brain and scouring the internet trying to find the perfect topical hack for you. Something about New Years’ resolutions, or spicing up out-of-office messages. But I stumbled upon this Inc article and decided I wanted to share it with you.

  • The author, Jason Aten, suggests writing down your thoughts in a notebook before bed each night. Those might include an important task you need to finish the next day, a movie recommendation or a philosophical question you’re ruminating on.
  • To make this fit with the holiday theme, I’m going to declare this my New Year’s resolution! My friend bought me a personalized planner for 2022, and I resolve to write in it each night. Can’t say I’ve ever completely followed through on a resolution before — they scare me — but hopefully, writing it in this newsletter will hold me accountable.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)

Hello from your future email inbox

If you’re anything like me, drafting your short and sweet out-of-office message is top of mind right now. But what’s likely not top of mind is how many emails you will return to following the holidays. Communication software company Front collected email data from the past few years to offer a glimpse into what people’s inboxes will look like when they return to their desks in the new year. Here are the holiday email trends Front found in its analysis.

  • It turns out most people do disconnect from their work during the holidays. Front defines the holidays as the two-week period between Dec. 20 and Jan. 2. Typical users send 49% fewer emails during that time than before the holidays, according to the company.
  • In addition, the sheer volume of outbound emails declines over that two-week holiday period by 42%.
  • But even with the decline in volume, email inboxes are still overflowing after the holidays. According to Front, teams typically receive over 400 emails over the holidays. An individual employee typically receives over 100 unread emails sent to them directly.
  • And good luck getting through it all. On the first day back at work, workers were found to go through an average of 60 emails that came in over the holiday period. In other words, maintain realistic expectations when you address your inbox in 2022.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

How one person who quit their job during the Great Resignation is thinking about her next role.

An interesting podcast interview with Bracken Darrell about how Logitech is going all-in on work-from-home and keeping up with the demand.

Some last-minute tech gifts for last-minute holiday shoppers. You know who you are.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great holiday, we’ll see you in 2022.

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