An essential component of inclusion is a person’s ability to ally with others. Allyship involves supporting marginalized individuals or communities by using your privilege to dismantle oppressive systems, interrupt exclusive behaviors, challenge biased norms, and advocate for equity and justice. To ensure you’re effectively allying with others in your day-to-day interactions, conduct a self-evaluation to see how these common myths about allyship land.
Myth #1: Allyship is all about what you can do as an individual.
While allying with others in your everyday life is important, allyship also involves advocating for more inclusive systems, processes, and environments. This could include championing policy changes, challenging discriminatory practices, and actively supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Real, positive progress depends on both individual efforts and larger, systemic changes, and the more people involved, the better. If you feel like you do not have formal authority to make changes, build alliances with people around and above you to advocate for larger changes.
Myth #2: Good allies speak for marginalized groups.
Allyship is about speaking up with marginalized communities or groups, not for them. True allyship involves listening to and amplifying the voices of marginalized groups, rather than taking the spotlight away from them. Focus on creating opportunities for people from marginalized communities to share their own experiences and perspectives in ways where they are heard. It’s crucial to center those directly affected by systemic injustices.
Myth #3: Allies should be praised.
While allyship is admirable, it is not about seeking recognition or accolades. Support for marginalized communities should be without expectation of anything in return. Allyship should be driven by the desire to create positive change rather than personal gain, and requires an ongoing commitment to self-reflection, education, and action. True support for marginalized individuals and groups goes beyond performative gestures or one-time efforts. As an individual, you can commit to an ongoing learning journey to continue growing your awareness of yourself, others, and effective allying behaviors.
Myth #4: It’s the thought that counts.
While your intent is important, how your allyship is received is even more so. There are many factors that influence how someone feels supported, including their cultural background, identities, job function, and more. To ensure you’re allying appropriately with others, consider using tools like the GlobeSmart Profile to learn the similarities and differences between your work styles. Similarly, the GlobeSmart Guides can help you learn more about interacting with people from different cultures around the world. Allying on one cultural setting may require completely different methods than other—for example, Asian cultures tend to be more hierarchical and status-oriented, which means authentic and meaningful allying behaviors in Asia look different than they do in more egalitarian cultures like the United States.
Log into Aperian to start using these inclusion tools for your own allyship practice. If your organization doesn’t have an Aperian account, start a 14-day free trial to start utilizing these inclusion tools!