What does it mean to be an ally in the workplace?
The success of any group depends on the allies that pledge their undying support. These allies use their resources to support colleagues from marginalized communities, so together, these voices can promote diversity even louder than alone.
Allies can be anyone, even marginalized communities, such as women of color or members of the LGBTQ community. However, white men typically wield the most power and have the loudest voices, and when in leadership positions, they can be the most impactful allies.
In this article, we explore examples of allyship as a DEI tool that organizations can utilize in the workplace. Additionally, we outline some strategies you can use to become a more effective ally.
You can find an ally in CoachDiversity Institute, where our experts host training programs to support leaders and team members. Enroll in our life-changing programs and become the ally your team needs for systemic change in workplaces worldwide!
5 Examples of Allyship as a Diversity and Inclusion Tool in the Workplace
Research shows that organizations that invest in allyship as a DEI tool see countless benefits, like increased profit and better employee retention. These five organizations set the standard for what it means to be an ally to marginalized groups. Through their examples, you can see what strategies could work for your organization.
1. Johnson & Johnson’s LGBTQ Allyship Initiative
Johnson & Johnson has the perfect example of a white ally in a leadership position that uses her position to support an underrepresented group. Ashley McEvoy, a J&J executive VP leads and coordinates connections from a group called Open&Out.
Her work with Open&Out promotes training programs that support LGBTQ and gender equity. “We’ve been recognized as an industry leader by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equity Index for our policies, including transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage,” she explained pointing to the positive changes that led to recognition.
2. Kroger’s Resource Group for Black Allies
Kroger utilizes employee resource groups to be a good ally for marginalized groups, from the LGBTQ community to Asian Americans. Yet, Kroger’s Black Allies resource group stands as one of the best in the nation.
Kroger’s Black Allies group seeks to eliminate workplace discrimination through education on topics like how to be an ally, how to support Black women and men, and groups to connect with and join. Plus, the Kroger Black Allies resource group has materials like books, podcasts, and films to highlight the need for social justice.
3. LinkedIn’s Allyship Activities for Hispanic Heritage Month
Ethnicity heritage months are an excellent way to be a true ally by engaging with and helping host events. A popular heritage month is Hispanic Heritage month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, LinkedIn published an extensive list of activities, media, conversation points, and influential leaders to connect with. This list encourages action that supports Latina and Latino people from your computer or mobile devices.
4. Microsoft’s Effective Allyship Program
Microsoft invests millions in promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace, including implementing a mandatory allyship program. This program is Microsoft’s “Global Allyship Program,” and it became available digitally and in-person in 2020 so every one of the 160,000 employees can learn what true allyship means.
The Microsoft Global Allyship Program consists of ten segments that target how to discuss different viewpoints and how to empathize with others. These skills create a safe space where employees feel valued, leading to greater employee retention.
5. Liberty Mutual’s Sponsored “Allyship” DEI Festival
Liberty Mutual is a role model in supporting allyship in the workplace by sponsoring a DEI festival. This annual festival is an opportunity to recognize team members’ inequities and what we can do to become true allies.
Most recently, Liberty Mutual’s Allyship DEI Festival covered themes like active allyship and supporting the intersectional differences of colleagues, family, and friends from all communities. Liberty Mutual also has a Men as Allies and Pride group that further supports different sexual orientations and the challenges those individuals face.
How to Become an Effective Ally
Unfortunately, the status quo of white men in power is still alive and well. Despite this dynamic, there are several ways you can become an effective ally that makes a difference in the lives of marginalized individuals and your workplace culture. Here’s how you can become an effective ally.
1. Listen more than you speak.
Humans have two ears and one mouth, a sign we should listen at least twice as much as we speak. That means to be an effective ally, you should listen to the experiences of others, absorbing everything you can before forming your own vocalizations.
To improve your listening skills, practice active listening to ensure you comprehend the stories and experiences of others. Start listening and learning from marginalized individuals close to you, then expand your network as you grow.
2. Mentor and work with others.
A position of privilege is an opportunity to pass along experience and knowledge to elevate others, especially those from marginalized communities. Support a work culture of mentorship by creating an open and accepting platform that allows everyone the chance to contribute.
Further support mentorship through validating the viewpoints of others. For example, make it a point to develop people of color to take over advisory board positions or other influential positions to boost confidence.
3. Share the spotlight.
An inclusive work environment means that everyone has the opportunity to find the spotlight. As an ally, seek opportunities, such as meetings, panels, presentations, etc., to have underrepresented employees take center stage.
These center-stage opportunities highlight the efforts and voices of marginalized individuals, such as women of color. Rotate presenters, panelists, and speakers so that every employee has the chance to work in an influential capacity.
4. Recognize and correct exclusion.
More often than not, exclusion results from unconscious biases or microaggressions. Inclusive executive leaders recognize that inclusive language, hiring, and workplace culture lead to employee happiness and effectiveness, and they take action to eliminate negative behaviors.
The most effective allies are vocal in not allowing offensive behaviors to occur. They coach and train individuals to be aware of harmful actions, and they refuse to deviate from that standard, even exercising progressive corrective action for individuals that don’t adapt.
5. Be strategic in your advocacy.
As good as your intentions are, there’s not enough time to support every social and racial justice group; there are just too many. Instead, self-reflect on which communities interest you or those that need the most support, and take action.
Of course, you will want to gain permission and acceptance for your allyship. Listen to group members and learn how you can help in ways that are the most impactful. Be open to hearing, growing, and developing the skills necessary to be an effective ally for your advocacy group.
Promote Allyship in Your Workplace with CoachDiversity
Being an ally is more than a social media presence. It’s getting involved in activities, standing up against exclusive language, and using your position to mentor those from marginalized communities.
Many organizations make DEI a core value, including Johnson & Johnson, LinkedIn, and Liberty Mutual. These organizations take allyship and embody the actions that underrepresented groups need, so their voices penetrate the static from the current status quo.
Your organization can also support allyship through the quality education from CoachDiversity Institute. Enroll your team in programs like microaggression training, unconscious bias training, or LGBTQ training. Call us today to get started!