• Olivia Burbee

Leaning Into Allyship at Work: Reflecting on Lean In's Workshop Series.

Updated: Oct 21

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to attend professional development training with Lean In to become a facilitator for their Allyship at Work workshop series. This opportunity has proven to be meaningful to my work as a social scientist, as I love finding organizations that align with continuous education and provide resources to better our work practices. Lean In is an organization founded to "Help women achieve their ambitions and work to create an equal world." With intersecting campaigns oriented towards workplace social equity, Lean In pushes to improve public policy with actionable campaigns and tangible results domestically and internationally.



An undraw illustration showing three colleagues talking as they work. The colleagues with lighter skin tones lean in to listen to their colleague with a darker skin tone.

Discovering Lean In

I was drawn to Lean In and its resources as there are a wide variety of tools with specific research for specific experiences, alongside reasonably timed and free professional development that is always oriented to pressing issues and current research. The workshops for program facilitation run often, and the community-led "Circles" are equally accessible and inclusive, with the availability of both local communities and Circles that have a global reach. As an entry point to engaging with Lean In, I registered to become a facilitator of their Allyship at Work workshop program. This workshop program is geared toward exploring the different avenues of allyship and how to make improvements towards best practices in the workplace on an individual, interpersonal, and systemic level.

The Lean In .org logo, The words "Lean In" In black capital letters with a thin red line under "In" against a white background.

The Training to Become a Better Ally

In the facilitator training, we explored the slides and navigated the discussion topics after a warm introduction to our Lean In touch person and answering ice-breaker questions among the other participants. This was meaningful to me, as there was no assumption of comfort level, making each experience and insight impactful. It was thought-provoking to tackle topics of diversity, inclusivity, and challenges from the lens of a facilitator and as a peer. In my training session, there were over 40 participants with various backgrounds, current positions, and work countries. Being split into breakout rooms broadened my perspective and was a great opportunity to learn about hot topics and priorities for people in a variety of jobs. The training took two hours and left me feeling well equipped to lead the program with our team, with the resources to facilitate emailed to me.

An undraw illustration showing one individual handing a paper with something written on it to another individual

The Kai Analytics’ Team Session

The following week our team set up a time for our introductory session. Our first session covered the preparatory notes, and we jumped into following the flow of the program—our team is smaller than the projected size, which I found beneficial as it let us tackle the content at the pace we needed. The balance of time processing information and time reflecting on the workbook exercises facilitated meaningful conversation, especially as a fully remote team. In total, we had four sessions, with each section following a similar flow. The Lean In materials provided us with relevant definitions and either some slides or a video to expand on the unit. We rounded out the materials by turning to the workbook and, most importantly, reflecting on the questions and prompts about the unit topic. The themes we discussed from our experience with the Allyship at Work topics included the power of collaboration, the impact of seniority, communicating your values at work, and how allyship does not diminish existing dynamics at work.


From Here

This training helped build on our commitment to social value development and alignment to continuous education in and out of the workplace. I've been able to join community Circles and have engaged in Zoom calls on varying intersections of gender equality in the workplace. It is important for us to continue learning and growing to be better allies for our team, our clients, and the communities impacted by our work. We look forward to continuing learning with Lean In, supporting their research, and facilitating workshops.


If you would like to learn more about Lean In, the Allyship at Work workshop series, and more including the community Circles, they have events and research coming out all the time so make sure you check them out!




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