Ally Skills Workshop

Now that we all know about bias in the workplace, what can we do to stop it? The Ally Skills Workshop teaches simple everyday ways for people to use their privilege and influence to support people who are targets of systemic oppression in their workplaces and communities. This includes women of all races, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks, parents, caregivers of all sorts, and people of different ages.

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

The workshop is usually 3 hours long, with a 30 minute introduction followed by about 2.5 hours of small group discussion with a short wrap-up. After being presented with a real-world scenario in which an ally could take action, each group discusses what actions to take, followed by a group report-out and discussion led by the facilitator. Each workshop discusses around 6-8 customized scenarios. Participants learn ally skills by practicing them during the discussion: listening, amplifying voices, identifying patterns, and more. The best workshops are a mix of people who can act as allies and people with personal experience of oppression. Attendance must be voluntary. The workshop is best as an in-person event, but can also be taught online.

I’ve already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued. — Anonymous participant

Our instructors have particular expertise in technology-related organizations and online communities, including tech startups, free and open source software communities, and Creative Commons communities. If you’d like to find out more about the Ally Skills Workshop, including pricing and availability, contact us at

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


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, parental/caretaker status, and age.

Slides (PDF) (PPT)
Handout (PDF) (ODT)
Goal setting exercise (PDF) (ODT)
Tips for online workshops for attendees (PDF) (ODT)
Online workshop co-facilitator guide (PDF) (ODT)

Related video

“Focus on Allies: Diversity and Inclusion in 2016” is a one hour talk that explains why programs like the Ally Skills Workshop are more effective in improving diversity and inclusion in technology than focusing on changing the behavior of targets. You can get the “Focus on Allies” talk at your organization by emailing

Slides – U.S. version with European alternates at end (Google Slides)

Video transcript

Ally Skills Workshop Train-the-trainers

We teach a day-long class on how 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.

Valerie Aurora ran the workshop, and it’s impossible to convey how good it was […] — C. Titus Brown

Slides (PDF) (PPT)
Facilitator’s guide (PDF) (ODT)

To find out more about these workshops, contact us at and we will be happy to answer your questions.