Allyship at Workplace: How to be an Authentic Ally?

Allyship at Workplace How to be an Authentic Ally
‘Being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It means you’re taking on the struggle as your own.’ says The Guide to Allyship.

According to Wikipedia, Allyship is defined as an English-language neologism used in contemporary social justice activism to describe efforts by groups of people to advance the interests of marginalized groups both in society at large and in particular social contexts.

In the context of workplaces, Allies consist of the majority. This could vary from country to country and city to city. For example, Allies in the West could consist of all white people (largely) and Allies in the Indian context would comprise all men (irrespective of color). This is a broad brush painting of course! It is said that no movement is complete without its allies.

Also, Watch Video on Allyship at the Workplace Click Here

If you understand, acknowledge, and utilize your position of power for helping the marginalized then you are an ALLY. In 2023 we continue to see great injustices that exist in our modern world which could stem from gender, caste, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, economic background, and more. What then, you might ask, is the role of a corporate organization in mitigating these injustices? Should organizations even care? Aren’t organizations established as profit-making enterprises?

Organizations exist in a society in which they exercise power and vice versa resulting in a continuous interplay of dynamics. Today practices to enhance diversity, build equity and celebrate inclusion are commonplace in most organizations. And this change is not just happening because we like to ape the west, copy what the competition is doing, or to just look good. Organizations are awakening and responding to the demands of their customers, employees, and investors alike. DEI is no longer just a social imperative but a business imperative too.

How to be An Ally at Work

One way to accelerate change is to create a culture of ALLYSHIP. And there are stages to Allyship too which begin with the first simple step of self-awareness. Are we aware of our own privileges, things we take for granted, and those which grant us “soft power”?

To illustrate I can give you my own example; I am a woman who grew up in the capital city, belongs to a family of working professionals, received an education in an English-speaking co-ed school, and went on to start a career at an age of 23yrs. Now I would have a serious blind spot if I did not recognize the advantages this gave me in life.  

How then can I use my privilege and position to help those who were not so lucky? Allyship is an individual’s awakening and companies can help create the atmosphere and environment that makes us look within.

The second step in becoming an ALLY is Curiosity; a step towards learning more about people from different identities, be it gender, LGBTQIA+, status, age, caste, or religion. Building a sense of empathy helps employees become more authentic allies with their colleagues. The key is to become more self-aware, move beyond recognition, de-center oneself, and take the onus of change.

The third step is to show up and speak up. Support the minority or historically marginalized by engaging with them. You could create an employment policy, an internship program, or simply onboard them as suppliers. By doing so, you are playing a part in creating opportunities that were long denied to them.

Allyship at the workplace can be a powerful tool through which employees from various spheres can join forces to create a harmonious professional environment.

Having at least one ally in the workplace is said to give 81% of people a sense of belonging, 79% greater satisfaction with their workplace culture, and 94% are more likely to be satisfied with their job, according to a study from Change Catalyst.

However, the real success of allyship can only be achieved by ensuring that every individual employee understands what true allyship looks like. An organization can promote the idea of Allyship and embed this in the culture through simple campaigns that bridge the gap between intent and action and offer tangible tools to employees to practice impactful allyship at work, understand the power they hold in creating the cultural shift, and feel recognized and rewarded for their effort. This also acts as a motivation for the wider team, helping cultivate a more inclusive, equal workplace.

Anyone can become an ally to others in the workplace – it just takes time, willingness, and understanding.

‘Being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It means you’re taking on the struggle as your own.’ says The Guide to Allyship.


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