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Allyship: Advocate, Acknowledge, and Awareness

Updated: May 8, 2021

Allyship in the Workplace

While you probably don't remember your first day at school, you do remember how you felt. You didn't know what to expect and entering a different environment where you didn't know who you could trust or if you were going to be accepted was difficult to deal with at that time.

This is no different from what employees feel when they find themselves in a new workplace. The reality is that it's difficult to know beforehand how you'll be received, how much you'll share with your work colleagues, or even if something that sets you apart from the other employees.

What Is Allyship?

It's the deliberate ongoing process of supporting, advocating, or being the voice for people who aren't heard. While the word "ally" used to be related mainly to the LGBTQ community, this is not the case anymore. Instead, the word serves to describe someone who stands up for a marginalized person or group. Allies of marginalized colleagues play a critical role in creating inclusive and respectful workplace cultures.

Who (Or What) Are Workplace Allies?

Ultimately, the main role of allies is to help create a more positive and stronger workplace environment to help you know that you are a part of the team and you should be valued as such. This is achieved by allowing you to be more open and talk about yourself which leads to creating a culture of truth in the workplace. Knowing that you are accepted regardless of your race, gender, beliefs or sexuality reduces worry and anxiety and allows you to put your full attention into work.

Building Allyship In The Workplace

One of the facts you need to keep in mind when you're building allyship in the workplace is that it's not a matter of quiet support or tolerance. It's way more than that. It involves deliberate intent and steps towards empathy and specific actions towards improving the experience of minority groups.

Some ways your company can foster allyship in the workplace may include:

#1: Be Aware:

While you need to create an inclusive environment, it is important to pay attention to unconscious bias. You should make sure that you encourage employees to take a couple of minutes to analyze potential biases and assumptions. One of the biggest challenges you will need to deal with is to let go of preconceived notions of normalcy and assuming certain behavior or ways of thinking are correct or the norm.

#2: Get Educated:

As we mentioned above, allyship involves action. You should aim to take specific actions to learn about and acknowledge cultural events and holidays. It can be tempting to ask women, people of color, and women of color about their experiences with inequality and injustice. However, an ally should seek out and take the steps to learn about cultural experiences.

#3: Acknowledge Your Privilege:

An ally recognizes the advantages, opportunities, resources, and power that you’ve automatically inherited. It’s important to realize that privilege is a resource that can be deployed for good. Privilege is equal to power - either you have it or you don't.

Allyship acknowledges that minority groups are shaped by a separate set of experiences. This often means a different way of thinking, which can translate to out-of-the-box solutions. This is also a way to give someone who may be overlooked the chance for contribution and recognition.

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