Ally Skills Workshop

Looking for practical, actionable diversity and inclusion training that people love? The Ally Skills Workshop teaches simple everyday techniques people can use to make their workplaces more inclusive. This highly interactive workshop helps people recognize when they have power and influence—when they can best act as an ally—and learn how to take effective action to make their workplace better. Note: the Ally Skills Workshop is available as an online or virtual training only at this time.

To learn more about hosting an Ally Skills Workshop at your organization, contact us at contact@frameshiftconsulting.com.

“Can we get more training like that?” —Anonymous workshop participant

About us

Smiling woman in front of treesFrame Shift Consulting is the leading provider of the Ally Skills Workshop. Our clients range from 10-person startups to corporate giants such as Google, Airbnb, and Square, as well as conferences, universities, and non-profits. Our lead facilitator, Valerie Aurora, is the primary author of the Ally Skills Workshop and a former software engineer. Since 2012, she has taught more than 100 Ally Skills Workshops to more than 3000 people in 10 countries around the world, including Mexico, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and across the U.S. In 2017 she began teaching the workshop online. Read more about our work in The Guardian, USA Today, and TechCrunch or on our press page.

“The workshop helped build confidence amongst individuals on the team to take practical everyday steps […] to create an inclusive culture. I would recommend it to any team, as a regular practice, to take the workshop and learn some new skills.” — Brandon Philips, CTO and co-founder of CoreOS

Workshop format

The ideal workshop length is 3 hours, based on attendee surveys, but can be shortened to 2 hours. After a 30 minute introduction, most of the workshop is spent discussing real-world scenarios in which an ally could take action in small groups. Each group shares their solutions in a group report-out led by the facilitator. Participants learn several ally skills by practicing them in discussion groups: listening, amplifying voices, apologizing and correcting themselves, and more. The workshop ends with each participant setting a specific goal for their future ally work. The workshop format and content is the same whether taught online or in person.

“Loved the format, it was super interactive and didn’t feel like a drag, 3 hours just flew by.” — Anonymous participant

Workshop attendance

The Ally Skills Workshop works best with:

  • 20 – 30 participants
  • Voluntary attendance only (non-negotiable)
  • Attendance open to as broad a mix of people as possible
  • Attendance limited to three levels of hierarchy (e.g., individual contributors, their managers, and their managers’ managers)

“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many ‘a-ha’ moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily.” — Anonymous participant

Example materials

All of the workshop materials are freely reusable, modifiable, and redistributable under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.  They are based on the Ada Initiative’s Ally Skills Workshop, originally designed to teach men how to support women in open technology and culture, and now expanded to cover oppression along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, body size, parental/caretaker status, and age. The scenarios are customized specifically for each client as part of the workshop fee.

Materials for participants:

  • Slides (PDF) (PPT)
  • Handout (PDF) (DOCX)
  • Identifying power and privilege exercise (PDF) (DOCX)
  • Scenario discussion prompts (PDF) (DOCX)
  • Goal setting exercise (PDF) (DOCX)
  • Tips for online workshops for attendees (PDF)

Other resources:

“Valerie did an amazing job of helping us articulate our cultural values in ways that are true to who we are and also sensitive to the realities that less privileged people face. Her feedback was consistently thoughtful and compassionate. I’m proud of what we ended up with and very grateful for the role that Valerie played in ensuring that we’re representing ourselves both honestly and sensitively.” —Gideon Wald, CEO Welkin Health

Train-the-trainers

In addition to offering the workshop ourselves, we teach people to facilitate the Ally Skills Workshop, so your organization can run the Ally Skills Workshop on an on-going basis and customize it to support your unique situation. Companies that teach the Ally Skills Workshop internally include Google, Square, Airbnb, and AppNexus. All of the workshop materials are freely reusable, modifiable, and redistributable.

The class is 6 hours total, ideally spread out over 2 days. The organizations which have had the most success with teaching the workshop internally started with 1 – 3 workshops taught by an outside facilitator to build trust and engagement, followed by training 15 – 20 people to facilitate, along with a plan for training new facilitators on a yearly basis. We recommend that two people co-facilitate the workshop.

To schedule a private train-the-trainers for up to 20 people at your organization, contact us at contact@frameshiftconsulting.com.

To learn when the next public train-the-trainers opens for registration, sign up to our low traffic mailing list. You can also fill out the expression of interest form to help us decide when to schedule the next public train-the-trainers. Ticket prices vary, but are generally on a sliding scale up to about $2500 for a single ticket for the public train-the-trainers.

Facilitators

The workshop is most effective when led by a facilitator with first-hand experience working in a similar field to that of the participants. Several of our facilitators have experience working at technology companies and in software engineering in particular. We will match you with the best facilitator for your organization. Click here to learn more about our facilitators.