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How To Be an Ally

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Insights
How to be an Ally

Commitment to diversity requires a responsibility to promote inclusion in the workplace. This helps us all create a vision of the world where all people are represented. Hiring and retaining a variety of different races, ethnicities, and people of different faiths ensures a positive and diverse work culture to be productive in.

As you work toward creating an environment where all employees can thrive, it’s important to understand the challenges associated with diversity in the workplace. Learning how to be an ally, whether as a friend, a boss, a colleague, or just as a human being, allows you to show support to those different from you, which hopefully will inspire others to do the same.

There are many different types of diversity training that can help your staff learn about the differences between them and how to navigate them effectively.

Five Tips for Becoming an Ally

Being an ally is not dependent on your race, gender, or faith; it’s about your actions and intentions.

#1 Identify yourself as an ally

To truly identify as an ally, you must define what it means to you. Traditionally, an ally is someone who actively supports and empowers marginalized individuals or communities, such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

This step may be the most challenging, as it forces you to recognize and accept your own privilege. While it isn’t necessarily an identity, it is a commitment to building relationships that are based on trust and accountability, regardless of your differences.

#2 Eliminate any assumptions you may have about others

Differences should always be celebrated, whether in the workplace or beyond. Making assumptions about people based on their gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic background leads to unconscious biases.

#3 Listen to learn

Instead of drawing your own conclusions, engage in open dialogue to learn and understand, rather than judge. For instance, if someone feels discriminated against or misunderstood, ask them how you can help. Active listening helps you to understand specific concerns and perspectives.

#4 Build empathy

Being a good ally means understanding that what is acceptable for one person may not be for another. Create a safe, judgement-free space where everyone feels comfortable.

#5 Become an advocate

Listen to how people refer to themselves and honor the language that they use, like pronouns. Language plays an important role in improving DEI strategies at work. Allies should understand the power of words, especially in workplaces that are considered safe spaces.

Making Changes for Those Different Than You

Being an ally is about leveraging your privilege for positive change. By providing resources that can support your peers, you can help make major differences in how they feel, work, or just live.

It’s also important to remember that nobody’s perfect. If you make a mistake during this process, simply apologize, and learn from it. We are all learning and growing together, so taking the time to work toward something positive is the most important thing.

Online diversity training can help with workplace diversity, inclusion, and sensitivity, and an Online Diversity Calendar will go a long way to making your workplace more inclusive.


What are the 4 pillars of allyship?

There are four main focuses when you commit to working as an ally: yielding, listening, learning, and action. Each pillar is crucial in building relationships based on trust and respect. Being an ally involves continuous effort and commitment to supporting others while recognizing one’s own privileges and biases.

How can I act as an ally?

Some main ways that you can be an effective ally at work include listening more than you speak to learn about those different from you. You can also recognize all of your team members and brainstorm ways to use their skills to better your own projects or efforts. Additionally, advocating for policies and practices that support equity and inclusion is vital. It’s also important to speak up against discrimination and bias when you witness it.

What is the first step to being an ally?

The first step to becoming an ally is taking the time to learn about other cultures different from your own and to examine your own prejudices to take proactive actions to become a better human to stand up for those around you. This involves being open to feedback and willing to change your behaviors and attitudes. Building empathy and understanding through personal connections and stories can deepen your commitment to allyship.

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