What is Allyship?
Allyship refers to the act of supporting a marginalized group or community, and it’s often used in the context of race, gender, sexuality, and other identities.
In recent years, the term “allyship” has become more prevalent in discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
First of all, it's essential to understand that allyship is a continuous process, not a one-time event or status. It requires a commitment to learning, growth, and action, as well as a willingness to challenge one's own assumptions and biases.
Allyship is not about seeking recognition or rewards, but rather about using one's privilege and influence to amplify the voices and needs of marginalized communities. It's a way to support and advocate for those who face systemic barriers and discrimination.
The first step to understanding allyship is recognizing and acknowledging our own identities, privileges, and biases.
This involves reflecting on our personal experiences and backgrounds, as well as examining how our social and cultural backgrounds impact our perceptions of others.
When we are aware of our own identities, we become better equipped to recognize and address systemic barriers that marginalized communities face.
Once we have recognized our individual identities and biases, becoming an ally involves taking action to support marginalized communities.
This may involve advocating for their rights and needs, using our privilege to amplify their voices, and actively working to dismantle systemic inequalities that affect them.
It is important to remember that allyship is not just about supporting a cause or issue, but also about developing meaningful relationships and building trust with members of marginalized communities.
Allyship is not a one-size-fits-all concept, as there is no set formula for being a good ally. Rather, successful allyship involves a willingness to listen and learn from marginalized communities, and a commitment to ongoing education and growth.
This may involve attending workshops, engaging in self-reflection and learning activities, and holding oneself and others accountable for their actions.
Key to effective allyship is recognizing that it is not a temporary or occasional act, but a commitment to ongoing action.
It is important to recognize that allyship involves not just responding to visible forms of discrimination, but also taking proactive steps towards advocating for inclusivity in all aspects of our lives.
This could involve challenging problematic language or behaviors, lobbying for policies that promote inclusivity, and actively seeking out opportunities to support marginalized communities.
Drawbacks of Allyship
There are some drawbacks of allyship that you should know about:
Can be Performative
Often, allyship can be superficial and performative. People might want to be seen as allies rather than actually engaging in any meaningful work.
Lack of Action
Allyship can get challenging when there is a lack of action. Promising to be an ally is not enough in itself; there needs to be an actual effort to effect change within the workplace.
Allies should be cautious about not tokenizing people. In marginalized communities, people may feel like they're being used to display allyship by those in higher-up positions, so it's important to spotlight meaningful contributions and not reduce individuals to being a part of the company's 'diversity portfolio.'
Centering Allyship Negatively
Allyship should not be centering a non-oppressed person as the hero or spotlight of helping marginalized communities.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, allyship can be a useful tool in DEI initiatives if allies take meaningful steps in dismantling systemic oppression and challenging the status quo.
It is important to understand that being an ally entails more than simply declaring oneself as one - it requires continuous action, learning, and advocacy.
One of the best tools that companies can use to explain such complex concepts to their employees is inclusio.
The DEI platform makes it easy for companies to use AI-powered insights to better understand the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives, and allows them to use a gamified approach to teaching such concepts.