What is Allyship?
Allyship is the act of supporting the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it. You can be an ally in many ways, it can be as simple as lending an ear, doing research or supporting a cause. You can go further by changing your own behaviour or taking positive action to make the world more inclusive for everyone.
Allyship is an important part of creating a more inclusive workplace. It's also beneficial for your business, as it helps to create a culture that encourages diversity and inclusion. By cultivating an inclusive environment, you can improve employee engagement and morale, create a safe workplace for everyone, foster collaboration and innovation - and ultimately make your company stronger.
Being a better ally in the workplace involves actively working to support and empower individuals from marginalized groups. Here are some steps you can take to be a better ally:
Recognize that you may have certain privileges that others do not, such as being able-bodied, cisgender, or heterosexual. Take the time to learn about the experiences and challenges faced by individuals from marginalized groups. Read books, attend workshops, and listen to podcasts to gain a better understanding of their perspectives.
Actively listen to the experiences and concerns of individuals from marginalized groups. Allow them to speak without interruption and validate their experiences. Being an ally means being open to feedback and criticism. Listen to the experiences and concerns of marginalized groups and use this feedback to continue to educate yourself and grow.
Check your biases:
A growing number of studies show a link between hidden biases and actual behaviour. One experiment by Word, Zanna, & Cooper, showed that white interviewers sat farther away from black applicants than from white applicants, made more speech errors and ended the interviews 25% sooner. Be aware of your own biases and work to challenge them. This can involve reflecting on your own experiences and assumptions and seeking feedback from others. Reflect deeper to recognise how your own privileges may impact your behaviour, views, and relationships with others.
When you witness discrimination or microaggressions, speak up and address the behaviour immediately. If this is not possible, or you don’t feel comfortable speaking up at the time, ensure you raise the issue to the appropriate person as soon as possible. It is important to use your own privileges to amplify the voices of marginalized individuals and use inclusive language that recognizes and respects the diversity of your co-workers.
Actively work to create a more inclusive workplace. This can involve advocating for policy changes, supporting diversity initiatives, enrolling on diversity training courses, or getting involved with mentorship programs. You could also work to promote inclusive hiring practices, such as blind hiring or diverse interview panels. This can help to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace from the start.
Ultimately, being a better ally in the workplace involves ongoing learning, active listening, and continuous improvements. It requires us to self-reflect, examine our own privilege, understand how it impacts those around us and then take action to support and empower marginalized groups.
The power of allyship is not only about creating a more inclusive environment, but also building a culture of respect and trust. By promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you can help your company attract top talent while making sure everyone feels like they belong.
Through effective allyship we can help to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.