Allyship involves elevating others who haven’t experienced the same advantages as you, and it is an essential part of a thriving inclusive workplace. The impact of your actions don’t always match your intentions, so it’s important to develop regular practices that help reduce your biases and create opportunities for allyship.
Allyship is everyone’s responsibility, and it starts with acknowledging your own biases, assumptions, and preconceived notions. By actively challenging your biases, and taking the time to learn about different cultures, experiences, and perspectives, you become more open to diverse opinions and ideas. Additionally, recognizing intersectionality—the interconnected nature of social categories such as race, gender, sexuality, and ability—can help you approach allyship more holistically. Cultural nuance is especially important to consider when interacting with coworkers from different countries and backgrounds. For example, people from cultures that are both hierarchical and group-oriented, such as those in Asia, can risk losing their jobs or even jeopardizing career development if they adopt allyship practices that are more common in American or European cultures.
After assessing your biases, consider what power and privilege you have that can help you create change. While everyone has varying degrees of personal power, some individuals have additional power depending on factors like their status and role. Considering your different types of power can help you identify opportunities to uplift those who are often overlooked. Maybe you can mentor or sponsor a coworker, or intentionally create space in meetings for marginalized individuals to be heard, acknowledged, and valued.
Becoming an effective ally is an ongoing effort. It’s crucial to not hold yourself back by the fear of making mistakes. Commit to listening to others, and seek out opportunities to expand your awareness and understanding. Engaging with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), attending networking events, and participating in community initiatives can broaden your perspective and help you build meaningful relationships. In addition to increasing your awareness, a commitment to a growth journey will also help you feel more confident and comfortable demonstrating allyship.
Effective and authentic allyship requires a combination of self-reflection and action. By challenging biases, assessing our power, and committing to continual growth, you can foster a workplace where everyone can thrive and grow. Our new Allyship in Action workshop and learning module provide your employees with the tools and support needed to grow ally behaviors and build inclusion in the workplace and beyond.