Ally Skills Workshop

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches simple everyday ways people can make their workplaces more inclusive. Participants love this practical and highly interactive online workshop, which teaches them how to recognize when they have power and influence—when they can best act as an ally—and how to take effective action to make their workplace better. We also teach a train-the-trainers for the Ally Skills Workshop (scroll down to learn more).

To learn more about hosting an Ally Skills Workshop or a train-the-trainers at your organization, email us at contact@frameshiftconsulting.com.

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

About us

Frame Shift Consulting is the leading provider of the Ally Skills Workshop worldwide. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Airbnb, and Square, small startups, conferences, universities, law firms, and non-profits. Frame Shift trained and provided the starting materials for many of the ally skills trainers practicing today.

A smiling middle-aged white woman with short bleached blonde hairOur 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 150 Ally Skills Workshops to more than 4000 people internationally in 11 countries, including Mexico, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Ukraine, and across the U.S. She has taught the workshop online since 2017. 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

Workshops are taught online in a highly interactive format using breakout rooms, exercises, and open Q&A. The length is 2-3 hours, including frequent breaks, with surveys showing most attendees prefer the 3 hour length. After a 20-30 minute introduction, participants discuss 3 -5 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 specific goals for their future ally work and an open Q&A period.

“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 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 at no additional fee.

Materials for participants:

Video

Live unrecorded discussion is an essential part of the effectives of the Ally Skills Workshop, so there is no recording of the entire workshop. However, you can watch a video of the introduction and a simulated scenario report-out to get a feel for the facilitation.


(Transcript)

Related: Focus on Ally Skills talk

The Focus on Ally Skills talk is a short (35 minute) introduction to the concept of ally skills. This talk explains why focusing on teaching ally skills to people with power and influence is more effective than changing the behavior of marginalized people. It then describes a dozen specific ally skills such as listening, amplifying marginalized voices, and speaking up when it is uncomfortable. It ends with a 20 minute question and answer period.

Slides (PDF) (transcript)

Train-the-trainers

We teach people to facilitate the Ally Skills Workshop so that your organization can run the Ally Skills Workshop on an on-going basis and customize it to support your unique situation. All of the workshop materials are freely reusable, modifiable, and redistributable.

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 or fill out the expression of interest form. Ticket prices are on a sliding scale from a few hundred dollars up to about $2500.

The session was fun, welcoming, and intuitive. The experience of the trainer and depth of information provided in the materials gave me confidence that I could, with practice, also offer this training. — Amy Sawyer

The train-the-trainers is 8 hours total, ideally spread out over 2 days. Organizations are most successful when they begin 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.

[The train-the-trainers] was intimate and hands-on. I got to practice the skills I’d need to teach while benefitting from Valerie’s and others’ experience with presenting. I also made connections that I hope may mature into opportunities for collaboration in the future. — Dr. Sheila Addison, professional ally skills trainer

Our lead facilitator for the train-the-trainers, Valerie Aurora, has taught more than 350 people to facilitate the Ally Skills Workshop. In the train-the-trainers, she shares lessons learned from teaching more than 150 Ally Skills Workshops over 10 years.

TTT materials

The train-the-trainers materials are freely reusable, modifiable, and redistributable.

Facilitators

The Ally Skills 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, as well as other fields. We will match you with the best facilitator for your organization. Click here to learn more about our facilitators.