Becoming an ally in the workplace isn’t about fancy signs with positive words anymore; it’s about creating an environment where employees feel seen, heard, and valued. Allyship is a powerful tool that fosters growth and empowers everyone in the office. Now, more and more companies are taking their first steps on the journey of becoming a more potent ally for their employees by prioritizing equity and inclusion practices in their workplace.
With all of the information on becoming a better ally, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where to start or even what it means to be an ally. But, in the most simple of terms, an ally is someone who isn’t a part of an underrepresented group of people but is actively involved in supporting and advocating for underrepresented groups. They seek opportunities to educate themselves rather than ignoring acts of discrimination or unfair treatment.
If you’re wondering if you’re qualified to be an ally, the answer is always yes! An ally can be anyone who chooses to acknowledge their privilege and wants to make a difference in the world around them, including the place where they work.
But where do you start?
Recognizing the problem and advocating for change are two beginning steps in the continuous process of allyship in the workplace, and it’s important to know that one cannot exist without the other. Attempting to speak out without following through with action can cause employees to feel that their efforts for equity and inclusion are not authentic. No one likes to feel like they aren’t being supported or heard, especially at work.
So it is crucial to take your action plan seriously and present a genuine approach to adopting values and practices you would like to see in your office that will set the standard for how all employees should be respected and valued. With clear intent, establishing these standards is like working on a new habit that will lead to allyship becoming a regular practice in the office with time and practice.
Stop Talking, Start Listening
One of the first and most important tasks you can integrate into your action plan is listening to others with respect and appreciation. But don’t just listen so you can respond; listen so you can understand. Actively listening to your employees and co-workers to empathize with their perspectives serves to help everyone grow and build the necessary impact that an ally should strive to co-create with their colleagues.
Always use everything you have access to! Pursue available resources at work or in the community that helps you learn and understand how to become a better ally.
In your efforts to learn about becoming a better ally, you might realize that some of your actions may have ignored others’ feelings or not been very inclusive in the past. It’s okay to acknowledge this! We’re all growing in our role to be a better ally, and it all starts with unlearning our previous perceptions so that we can adopt new ones that are more open and welcoming to everyone around us.
Encourage Everyone’s Contributions
Acknowledging and celebrating your colleague’s contributions and skill causes an opportunity for their expertise to be seen and valued instead of questioned or doubted. Even small contributions are worth celebrating!
When you demonstrate a spirit of encouragement and celebrate the accomplishments of everyone, it spreads throughout the workplace and makes people feel appreciated for their work. In addition, by consistently supporting participation from everyone in your workplace, people are more likely to engage since they feel that their voices are being heard and respected.
Ask for people’s insight on meetings or company projects. When you actively invite others to participate, you open up the door to hear a wide range of ideas that they previously might not have felt comfortable sharing just by speaking out. Amplifying people’s voices and ideas are a great way to promote engagement from everyone further and also helps allies to continue actively listening to colleagues.
While it may seem like a small act, encouragement and support help to increase visibility and understanding; by encouraging everyone to contribute, allies can help provide a stage where everyone can share their thoughts in a healthy and safe manner that is uplifting.
Equality v. Equity
It’s essential to know how to make a positive contribution that has a lasting impact. So, the next step to take is understanding the difference between equality and equity.
While equality and equity seem identical, their effects in the workplace are both incredibly different. Equality in the workplace represents how every employee is given fair treatment and opportunities no matter what. This may seem like a great strategy to employ in the workplace, but it can frequently cause harmful results, leading to workplace biases and exclusivity.
Not everyone begins at the same place on the starting line of life, and some people have to work harder to even catch up to their peers. When you provide everyone with the same resources, they might not always help everyone equally.
This is why equity is a more beneficial strategy in the long run for maintaining an inclusive workplace that supports all employees. Establishing a culture of equity provides the opportunity for every employee to have their specific identities heard and taken into consideration when it comes to providing a fair workplace.
Furthermore, giving everyone resources suitable to their own particular needs ensures that people have the opportunities and tools to succeed in the workplace.
Fostering workplace equity is one of the most significant contributions that you as an ally can make because it shows that your actions as an ally are filled with the purpose and intent to be inclusive of everyone’s needs. Everyone brings different perspectives and experiences onto a team, so creating a safe space where every employee can feel comfortable having their identities seen and understood will build strong bonds of trust within the company.
Understanding the Benefits of Allyship in the Workplace
Implementing inclusive and equitable practices in a company benefits both the employees and the employees. The benefits of being an ally in the workplace are abundant. When employees feel respected and valued for their identities and perspectives, they are more likely to be motivated to accomplish their best because they feel supported enough to do so.
Another benefit is employee recruitment and retention.
In the Great Resignation, employers are doing their best to attract and retain top talent onto their teams. By adopting workplace equity and allyship, companies can communicate to their employees that fair treatment and opportunities are a core value that is taken seriously.
Employers that voice their practices of allyship also have an easier time when it comes to recruiting employees onto their team because job seekers feel safer with a company that is transparent on how they embrace equity and inclusion. These benefits save companies a lot of time and money because they have a lower turnover rate and spend less time recruiting due to easily attracting employees that feel welcomed and accepted.
Providing a healthy workplace that operates on solid values also increases productivity because employers can engage better in their work when they don’t have to worry about being mistreated. This is due to the several mental and emotional benefits that improve employees’ overall mindset. For example, employees are more likely to engage and are productive in an environment where they feel safe and welcomed, further motivating them to accomplish work goals. It also promotes empathy and understanding within team dynamics, which leads to less conflict between colleagues and smoother operations when working together on team projects.
Reflect & Grow
Now that you know the reasons and benefits of fostering workplace equity take a moment to reflect on how you can use this article to be a better ally at your workplace.
Being an ally and building up an equitable workplace won’t happen overnight. It takes continuous effort to close the gaps of opportunities in the workplace, but with dedication and communication, we can all achieve the impact we want to create on our teams.
Be an Ally with Lumi
Navigating to become a better ally to others is a starting point that many find daunting. Moreover, it can be overwhelming trying to find where to start. Lumi makes it easy and straightforward to find your way around adopting vital principles and practices in your office that will leave a lasting impression at work.
Next time you need to send out gifts at the workplace, do it with a mission-driven approach! Lumi carefully curates gifts from under-represented vendors that help create a social impact in your office (like the amazing Black-Owned Box from True Moringa!). In addition, all of our vendors offer unique, thoughtful, and exceptional products.
By gifting with us, you’ll communicate to your workplace that you take your actions as an ally seriously and incorporate them into all work culture aspects, including corporate gifting.