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.

The Surge in Corporate Diversity Initiatives – Real and Longstanding, or a “Flash in the Pan?”

Is this really the origin of “Flash in the Pan?” Check down at the end of the blog.

Check at the bottom of this blog for the meaning and derivation of “flash in the pan”

It’s now been about a year since the COVID pandemic started and nine months since George Floyd’s death. Now let’s look back and look ahead.

In late April of 2020, when we entered into the second month of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I wrote a blog asking “Will corporate diversity initiatives go down the tubes during and after the pandemic?” I shared the fear that diversity initiatives would be set back decades as every diversity training session I was scheduled to lead and all my diversity consulting gigs got cancelled. I even had one client cancel a series that was already scheduled be done remotely via the web.

I also shared the concern that the stoppage may not be temporary, as when things started picking up again and budgets needed to be cut, that diversity, equity and inclusion work would be one of the first items trimmed or eliminated. I was basically resigned to it being a very poor year business wise.

George Floyd’s killing led to worldwide “Black Lives Matter” rallies including this one in Brussels.

And then George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was chocked to death by police in Minneapolis. As the same time, other murders of black and brown people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor came into public view, and since that time, additional unjustified killings of people of color have come to light. This led to a quick renewal of the Black Lives Matter movement, and protests in dozens of cities across the country and even across the world.

Then all of a sudden, the diversity topic that had been shoved under the carpet was now out again in full force, with most corporations and non-profits knowing that they had to take a stand. And the stand had to go beyond just making some kind of nice public statement, but truly addressing issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and more impacting organizations. Corporate leaders once again began to understand the compelling business rationale for a well-funded diversity strategy leading to impactful action. And business-wise, I have been busier than ever!

It is both sad and great that these awful events across our country lit a fire under organizational leaders. But now the main questions are:
• Will these efforts lead to real systemic change with metrics and measurements showing that real progress is being made?
• Will these efforts now be ongoing, or will things slowly simmer down and die, or be cut the next time an organization has a little financial blip and needs to cut something to increase profit?

Hopefully, the answer is that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts will now be long-term and driving real systemic change in businesses and non-profits, and hopefully having lasting positive impact on society as whole.

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“Flash in the Pan” means a sudden spasmodic effort that accomplishes nothing.  The origin? Flintlock muskets used to have small pans to hold charges of gunpowder. An attempt to fire the musket in which the gunpowder flared up without the bullet being fired was ‘a flash in the pan‘. The term has been used since the late 17th century.

Blog author Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBTQ+ diversity strategy and training, Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups.  Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity strategy consulting or training for your organization to help assure your diversity efforts are not a “flash in the pan,” or pass my name onto your HR department. [email protected]