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10 Ways to Become a Better Ally

Assessment

Which of the following describes allyship in the workplace?

That's right, good job!

The correct answer is: The lifelong process of building relationships with and advocating for the equity of non-dominant groups, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans and LGBTQ+ communities

Not quite!

The correct answer is: The lifelong process of building relationships with and advocating for the equity of non-dominant groups, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans and LGBTQ+ communities

Allyship comes in many different forms — it doesn’t always require grand gestures. In fact, sometimes the smallest acts can have the biggest impact. Anytime you speak up, take the time to understand the experiences of someone from another background or take action to advocate for others with less privilege, you are acting as an ally and, in doing so, enhancing the well-being of others, broadening your own perspective and uplifting communities.

Anyone can practice allyship. Here are 10 ways that you can become a better ally:

  1. Get informed. Everyone has room to learn when it comes to allyship. Use the resources to educate yourself on common challenges, experiences and biases affecting non-dominant groups.
  2. Expand your network. We are often drawn to people with similar backgrounds and personalities to our own, limiting our opportunities for personal growth and often limiting the opportunities of non-dominant groups to build connections. As a result, non-dominant groups have fewer support networks and advocates at work, which negatively impacts both their mental health and their career development opportunities. Get to know people from different backgrounds personally. Invite them to virtual meet-ups with other colleagues and non-work related social events.
  3. Listen to hear. Practice active listening by being focused and attentive, rather than waiting to speak, and empathizing with others’ concerns. Try to refrain from offering your opinion on other people’s experiences — instead, put yourself in their shoes.
  4. Make connections for growth. Across almost every country and industry, non-dominant groups are significantly under-represented at the executive and management level. Our tendency to promote, hire and connect with those with similar backgrounds limits career development opportunities for non-dominant groups. Share helpful professional development tips and career development opportunities with people from different backgrounds from your own.
  5. Take the lead. Many of the inequalities in the workplace stem from systemic patterns and unconscious biases. Once we are aware of these patterns, we can make a shift to break them. Stretch yourself by becoming a mentor/mentee to someone from a different background. Take active interest in their strengths and passions and share your own with them.
  6. Self-reflect. To be able to grow personally and create space for others to thrive, we first need to be self-aware. Recognizing the many facets of your social identity that have shaped your experiences will make you a better individual and stronger ally for others. Understand your privileges, use them to advocate for non-dominant groups and get familiar with your own conscious and unconscious biases so that you can become a better you.
  7. Consider intent. Conversations about discrimination and equality may be difficult to have; however, they are critical to becoming a better ally to your colleagues, loved ones and community. While you may not understand or agree with what is being articulated, it’s important to listen when someone explains their experiences to you, be respectful and not take them as personal attacks.
  8. Speak up. Have zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviors and jokes — report them to your HR representative.
  9. Use inclusive language. Replace masculine references with gender-inclusive language (e.g., use “humankind” instead of “mankind”), avoid offensive language that favors able-bodied people (e.g., lame) and understand and use the correct pronouns.
  10. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is the only way you’ll be able to learn. If you say or do something you’re not proud of, don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledge your imperfections and actively seek to educate yourself and improve your behaviors.

Assessment

Please indicate whether the following statement is true or false: By using inclusive language (e.g., using partner/spouse instead of husband/wife), I can help create a more welcoming environment for others.

That's right, good job!

The correct answer is: True

Not quite!

The correct answer is: True

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