We Belong As Allies: Here’s How I Became an Ally and You Can Too

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re introducing We Belong, a new series where women and allies at Intel help you with career questions and life challenges by sharing their personal stories, advice, and expertise showing how they – and you – belong in allyship.

Today’s Advisor:

 

Vince Guglielmetti, Costa Rica Site General Manager
“As an ally, my role is helping make the world a better place for everyone around me.”

 

 

I always thought of myself as being a great advocate for diversity.

I was doing what I believed were all the right things. I would speak at the women’s network events and represent Intel at diversity-related activities. I would coach women and others around me on their career paths, and so on.

I believed I was doing enough for the people around me. Then I realized all of my actions were those of a solid “sponsor”—but not a true ally.

So what changed for me? Why did I decide to become an ally?

I read the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It changed my view on what inclusion truly means and how I could lead change to create an inclusive environment. I knew I must have my own share of biases, so I asked myself some tough questions to identify them.

  • “What do I think is the ‘appropriate behavior’ for a woman? Are my expectations different from a man?”
  • “How do I expect women to interact with me? Do I have different expectation than for men?”

These questions made me reflect on my conversations. While I listened to everyone, I realized I generated my own perceptions when a woman was more direct with me. I recognized women’s great ideas, but I could easily jump to deciding a woman was more challenging to work with. A woman’s directness often took a harder emotional toll on me personally because I was seeking and expecting less directness and a more empathetic ear. I realized this was my own bias and I had to own it. As I comprehended my own deficiency, I could then help others see the same. I took my learning and I expanded it so when others come to me and complain “She’s a pain,” I now probe to determine if there is an underlining bias at play. I respond, “Really, I find her pretty great to work with on projects,” and then ask, “What did she do that made you feel that way?” This way I identify if there is an individual bias to be addressed or if there is something else there that needs to be worked out.

You might trying ask yourself some tough questions like this too. The answers might not be easy to swallow but you have to understand your bias to make a change.

This brings me to my point. What does an ally do?

I’ve learned an ally questions the social norms and biases built into our society—especially when they do not negatively affect them personally. An ally fights to not feed into these biases and helps drive environmental change to remove them all together. A movement is what is required. I discovered if I wanted to be an ally, I needed to listen to those affected about what needs to change, identify what I can influence, and make a public declaration to do it. Then follow through.

In my case, I declared that we would drive to 40% gender diversity by 2025 at Intel Costa Rica. This is my Intel site and one I knew I could personally influence as site general manager. When I set this goal in 2015, our site’s gender diversity was at 29% and we were hiring women in technical roles below market parity.

Why 40%? I did the math. If you have a staff of 10 and market parity is 20%, do you really think having 2 women on your staff creates a genuinely inclusive environment? I don’t. I believed we need bigger change to create an environment that would increase the likelihood for success.

The next step was to take action to make the declaration come true. After all, trust is built when your words and your actions align.

We created a framework that builds a pipeline, hires above parity, retains our people, and progresses all of our leaders. Today at Intel Costa Rica, 35% of our employees are women and 50% of our senior leadership are women. Our female talent retention is at 95% and our site engagement scores for all employees are off the charts. I’m glad we are getting close to our goal, but the work isn’t done.

In Costa Rica, our motto is “The Best of You Powers the Future.” We believe that each of us is unique—and we embrace that uniqueness. Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” As an ally, I see my role as much bigger than just helping a few people and showing up when it’s convenient. My role is to help make the world a better place for everyone around me.

What do you want your role to be?

I would like to invite you to take one action as an ally today. Will you ask someone how you can be an ally to them? Will you make a declaration and a plan to see it through? Will you set up time for your staff to discuss the significance of Women’s History Month or allyship overall? Defining actions you could all take could be transformational.

Today can be the first day you start changing the world to be a better place.

 

We Belong – on the team, in leadership, as allies.

Do you struggle feeling like you belong?

Have a burning career question or thorny challenge you’d like help tackling?

Ask us for advice in the comments below!

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