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  • Writer's pictureIyakabeth Rodney

What does it mean to be a good ally in the workplace?

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Cecilia Castelli

What is an Ally?

An ally is someone who provides assistance and support to another. This may be for an individual cause or a collective one. In life we encounter a variety of people who come from different walks of life, this could be down to their race, gender or sexuality. It’s important to show that you are aware of what people are going through, and willing to take action when necessary.

Being a good ally in the workplace means you:

1. Listen first, act second

Your role as an employer/manager is naturally to govern and have control over the workplace. However, when it comes to being an ally, it’s necessary to do the opposite! A good ally is someone who knows when to take a step back and listen to what is being said. Employees should feel comfortable authentically expressing themselves without fear of judgement. Once you’ve heard, then comes the action.

2. Are aware of your own privilege

With privilege comes opportunities and advantages, you are granted access to resources that overlooked groups are unable to attain. Becoming aware of this will allow you to realise the inequalities that diverse groups face. At times you may feel challenged and uncomfortable if this is something that you have never considered. However, it’s an ongoing process that takes a level of honesty and vulnerability.

If you’re unsure about your privilege, Hive Learning has published an article that outlines the 5 main types of privilege.

3. Challenge injustices when you see them

Once you’ve become aware of your privilege you’re more likely to notice injustices not only in the workplace, but in everyday life. A good ally is someone who uses their position of power to speak up or act against injustice. For example, if you hear anyone in your company using microaggressions or showing signs of discrimination, use this as an opportunity to make your voice heard and challenge this type of behaviour. Speaking up will help to dismantle negative perceptions people have of marginalised groups, the more voices heard in the face of injustice, the bigger the difference.

4. Hire a diverse range of employees

Being a good ally also means offering your support where you can, what better way to do this than to offer job roles to those from overlooked communities? Hiring diversely will help with creating more opportunities for those that need them. With this in mind, remember that with diversity comes inclusivity. Diverse employees should feel that they are in an environment where they are valued and appreciated by their employers.

Allyship is not self-defined - our work and our efforts must be recognised by the people we seek to ally ourselves with - Layla Saad

Final Thoughts

A world without allies is a world without compassion and empathy, allyship allows us to form a sense of togetherness through a shared cause. This is the type of changemaker behaviour that will create a more positive and progressive environment, one where injustices are challenged and support is constantly given to those who need it.

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