You want to work for more diversity and inclusion in your company? Then the best place to start is with yourself - by becoming an Ally. Here we explain what allyship means in the company and how to get there.
The English term allyship (pronounced "Elleischipp") means allyship. It refers to the solidarity of privileged people with members of a marginalised group. Education, financial means, but also gender, age, race, sexual orientation and many other factors determine our role in social power relations. Those who conform to established norms and ideals automatically benefit from privileges. For example, while a trans person is often microaggressions microaggressions, a cis person experiences general acceptance. People without physical disabilities, unlike people with physical disabilities, enjoy the advantage that (office) buildings and cities are designed according to their needs.
This is why Allyship is important in the company
In the company, these dynamics lead to privileged people being hired more often for the same qualifications and rising to leadership positions more often. The aim of Allyship is to break through these structures from one's own position of power - and thus to ensure social justice, equal opportunities and participation. Therefore, Allyship is to be understood as a process in which you, as an Ally or ally, make the lack of social justice visible in everyday life and actively stand up for the victims of discrimination.
How do I become a good Ally?
Allyship does not mean good vs. evil. Most of us are - depending on the situation - sometimes more and sometimes less privileged. In order to recognise how you can be an ally, you have to deal with the existing power relations and with yourself. This can sometimes be painful. Who likes to think about the fact that they got their hard-earned promotion because of undeserved advantages? If this thought bothers you or triggers resistance in you, realise that it is not about a moral judgement or denying your performance, but about a change of perspective and future equality of opportunity. Allyship is a constant learning process. LGBTQI+ activist Anne Bishop has described what this process can look like. Anne Bishop has used 5 steps in her Spiral Model explained:
1. where do you stand?
Become aware of your own role in society: where do I enjoy advantages, where am I marginalised?
2. what does this trigger in you?
The answer to the first question can be uncomfortable. Get clear about your fears, hopes, challenges and contradictions.
3. why is that?
Take a good look at the world: Analyse history, individual social contexts and existing power dynamics. Listen carefully to those affected.
4. what can you do about it?
Develop a strategy for what allyship should look like for you in the company and how you can achieve more diversity. Above all, pass on the microphone.
5. use your position to help others!
Act and behave like an Ally. Then go through the 5 steps again.
What does Allyship look like in the company?
If you want to ensure diversity in your company, you don't have to wait for a large-scale diversity strategy. diversity strategy strategy. Act yourself! A typical example from everyday office life: In a meeting, a woman is talking about a topic in which she is an expert. Suddenly she is impatiently interrupted by a colleague. He really gets going, doesn't let her get a word in edgewise, lectures her and finally repeats her thesis. Behind this is his Unconscious Biasthat she cannot be as competent as he is because of her gender. This has great disadvantages for the female colleague: her performance is perceived as weaker in the team, the man is remembered as the real specialist. Here, another man can become an ally - for example, by classifying who originally put forward the thesis and emphasising that he would like to hear it again from the expert herself.
7 helpful formulations for allies
This is how you can react to discriminatory situations:
- "I'm not comfortable with what you just said.
- "I don't want to embarrass you, but I have to say something about this."
- "Maybe you didn't mean it that way, but that sounds transphobic/homophobic/racist/sexist/ableist to me..."
- To a witness: "Did you also just hear that?"
- "What prompted you to make that statement?"
- "Do you really think that ...?"
- Important! Involve the person concerned: "I want you to know that you are not alone".
Your attitude as Ally: Will to change vs. performance
Allyship is an attitude. It's about acting unselfishly - and not for the public applause. Not so easy, after all, we want to show our best side at work. Therefore, make sure you keep the added value for those affected in mind and don't use Allyship for self-promotion. Otherwise, what activists call performant activism, justice theatre or cookie-seeking will happen. But if you act out of honest empathy and conviction, you will quickly develop the right instincts. Fears and insecurities are part of it! Nobody is perfect, and you are in a learning process: what counts is to keep at it. And then you, as an individual, can make a valuable contribution to allyship in the company.
Recommended reading and sources:
Bishop, Anne (2015): Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People