Recent events like the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements as well as the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on minority groups have demonstrated the reality of inequity in the world. A recent research study revealed that 49% of people in Ireland would not like to see more Black people immigrating to Ireland, and the figure goes higher for Muslims.
While these figures and events paint a grim picture of the world in general, these incidents also shed light on the power of allyship and the possibility of converting these incidents into strong movements of change.
Allyship is a very strong tool to influence the culture of the organisation. Allies not only influence one person at a time, but their actions have a wide organisational impact. It is also a way of encouraging others to come forward and act as an ally to underprivileged minority groups.
Most of us are privileged in at least one way. That doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard or that we didn’t experience hardships in life. Nor does it mean we do not have a voice on inclusion. Sometimes people can think because they don’t have the lived experience they shouldn’t get involved. That is where allyship comes in.
Allyship is about recognising personal privilege or power and using it to advocate for people in underrepresented groups. To use privilege for good and to be a good ally you have to be aware, listen and speak up.
Allyship is a lifelong process and allies do not wake up one day and decide to change the world with everything they do from now on. Allies are created by building relationships anchored with trust, accountability of actions and consistent interactions with minority groups over a period of time. It may be tempting to ask a few people for their experiences and generalise from the stories of one or two colleagues. Instead, support and mentor colleagues where you seem to have the most ability to influence the change. Also, while talking to your colleagues, be mindful of the mental trauma and emotional turmoil it can bring to those facing inequality at the workplace. You may try to start by asking questions like “Would you be comfortable….” Or “Can you advise …” instead of “I know what you feel….”
PhoenixRize is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training, coaching, and consulting company in Ireland. At a recent workshop for employees of Business in the Community Ireland, Adaku Ezeudo from PhonenixRize shared key allyship actions at an individual, interpersonal and structural level:
Organisations are aware of the benefit diverse and inclusive workforces offer. To foster a diverse culture, organisations must educate their employees’ allyship and support the change it brings. A few actions that your organisation can take in building a culture of allyship are listed below:
With more diversity at workplaces, organisations need more and more employees to come together to build an environment where everyone belongs, and everyone progresses together. Companies that embrace the reality of and accept the power of allyship will benefit from the advantages that a truly diverse and inclusive workforce brings with it.
Allyship is not about taking charge of the ship as the captain, instead it is being there for those whose voices need to be elevated to drive change.
Allyship is not about standing in your supremacy as a privileged person, or raising your own moral ground, instead allyship is a tool for melting the invisible walls of intersectional divide and treating everyone as equal.
Allyship is about decentring yourself and bringing everyone forward together. This is a tool to make the journey from ‘THEM’ to ‘US’.
The Elevate Pledge signatories have come together to learn and create solutions that support in building an inclusive workforce and have social impact on the Irish society.
To find out more about our Inclusive Workplace Pledge, Elevate, please click here.