20 Ways to be an ally
NEW members have been working to Advance All Women for all 20 years we’ve been part of our members’ lives. In that time, our mission hasn’t changed, but the language around how we express it has grown and evolved! Allyship is a key part of supporting women in our workplaces – and our members have their own thoughts on how that allyship best comes to life.
“Understand that there are times when another woman has to go first. Support them so that, when it is your turn, others will support you. Also, be a good friend when others are struggling professionally. There are so many people who are ‘there’ when things get rough — but only for a short time. Be there for the duration.”
– Fawn Germer, Best-selling Author & Speaker, fawngermer.com
Be willing to do your own research rather than leaning on others to educate you.
Don’t be a performative ally.
Saying you’re an ally is a great first step – but the women around you may see it as ‘performative’ if it doesn’t come with action right behind it.
‘See something, say something’ could not be more relevant. Being a good ally means refusing to be a bystander when you see bias at play.
Be okay being uncomfortable.
Sometimes speaking up may lead to difficult or uncomfortable situations – and that’s okay! A moment of discomfort for you can end a history of bias in someone else.
“Advocate for her to get the new, cool stretch project.”
Carol Vella, Associate Director, Marketing – DEI, Walmart
Learn from your mistakes, and pledge to do better next time.
We all make mistakes. When you get it wrong – when the women around you let you know you’ve missed the mark, or displayed bias you didn’t know you had – be willing to listen and humbly learn.
Amplify the voices of others.
Women are regularly talked over in work settings or left out of the conversation entirely. If you’re a male ally or a woman already in the room, ensuring there is space for women’s voices to be heard is a key expression of allyship.
Make meaningful impacts.
Whether by donating to organizations that support women, standing up for women at work, or advocating for gender-equal workplace policies, work toward the efforts you know will make real, tangible impact for the women around you.
Understand trust is earned.
For women whose history includes dysfunctional workplaces and unequal treatment, trusting an ally may not come easily. That’s okay! Earn the trust of the women around you by showing up and acting as the ally you are.
Get permission before asking for personal experiences.
Just as trust is earned, not every woman is willing to share their personal experiences. Asking if they’re open to discussing it first ensures you don’t burden someone already exhausted with the weight of fighting for equality with another emotional lift.
Look around the table and note who’s missing.
Say you agreed to do a panel, or were assigned a major project. Look around. Are women there – are women of color there? If not, speak up! You can be the voice of change simply by calling attention to the absence of those who never get their seat at the table.
Be a sponsor.
Mentorship is of course valuable, but sponsorship provides the material support so many women lack.
“Select us for the high profile opportunities/assignments that typically go to [men]. Don’t let others interrupt us when we’re speaking.”
– Nicole Balkenbusch, North America Sr Finance Leader, Amazon Customer Service
Recognize your privilege.
Whatever form of privilege you may hold, it’s important to recognize it, reconcile it, and be comfortable with the fact that it is making your work life easier than it is for so many others.
Use your privilege for good
Once you’ve recognized your privilege, turn it to the good! Whatever may have gotten you where you are, you can use those advantages in favor of those who lack them to hold the door open behind you and lift women up.
Don’t ascribe your own experiences to others.
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating – all women are different. While you may share something in common with a woman you want to support, don’t assume she has lived the same life you have. Whatever your commonalities, let her tell you what kind of support she may be looking for rather than assuming you know based on your own experience.
Encourage allyship in others.
Bring others along on the allyship train! Many men and women would love to be strong allies to women, but don’t know where to begin (sharing this list with them wouldn’t be a bad place to start!).
Set boundaries others may not be able to set.
If you’re in a position of power in your organization, you have the ability to set boundaries that many women cannot. Insist that there are women in the room at the next board meeting. Demand equitable hiring practices and pay transparency. Where you can, insist on equity – and set a boundary against anything less.
– Lacey Cozens General Sales Manager Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
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