Allyship is a two way street – 5 points

Being an ally is a two-way street.

As a diversity, inclusion and equity consultant and trainer, one of the main topics that organizations are focusing on these days is allyship – the concept of supporting all diverse people in a positive way, helping build unity and respect.

One of my favorite consulting colleagues, Katherine Turner of Global Citizen, LLC wrote one of the best definitions of an ally: “An ally is a person with relative privilege and power who builds trusting relationships and acts in solidarity and with accountability to people and/or groups with marginalized identities without detracting from their power and voice.”

Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft’s (link to their allyship program info) Chief Diversity Officer, shares this definition, “An ally is somebody who intentionally engages with empathy and care to support someone else in the way which they would want to be supported.”

And given the complexity and intersectionality of each person’s unique diversity, we each have combinations of relative power and marginalization. At various times we can be allies, and at other times, need allies.

In training around allyship, I use materials from a large number of excellent industry consultants, but recently I developed some of my own original content, called “Allyship is two way street.” Here are the 5 major points:

1) Allies must show authentic full respect of all people and not do it a “patronizing” way or appearing “better than” the other person or group. All people are of equal value and worth, deserving of full dignity and validation.

2) We need to study and seek to understand with an open mind and without getting defensive, the historical perspective of “white imperialism” and “systems of oppression” and how they can impact the people we are working with.

3) We can use allyship as a way of building genuine diverse relationships. Just don’t talk – listen deeply and build a friendship.

4) That as allies, the relationship is not “one way.” We can gain rich gifts and insights from those we ally with.

5) We need to understand how being a strong and sensitive ally benefits us. Being a strong ally to diverse communities makes the world a better place for others and for ourselves as well.

You can google and find all kinds of resources about being an ally. I will leave you with this impactful 2 minute 15 second video (thanks to the company Salesforce for creating and publishing it) that demonstrates the power of allyship.