The Foolproof Recipe for Being an Ally

The Foolproof Recipe for Being an Ally

77% of employees claim to be allies at work.

But is it the case? What does it mean to be an ally? According to Change Catalyst’s 2021 State of Allyship Report, an ally is someone who learns, shows empathy (by reading, observing, and listening to the lived experiences of others), and acts on behalf on someone else (by getting involved and intervening) as an advocate, sometimes even giving up their own place so the people they champion can flourish, and removing the barriers that hold under-represented groups back. So, what’s the recipe for being a good ally? Read on to find out!

Step 1: Inform Yourself

Being an ally starts with getting informed. Doing this means taking responsibility for the need to educate ourselves about the realities of those around us. According to Benjamin Pastorelli, a Doctor of psychology and instructor at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès and Toulouse Catholic University, by understanding the issues faced by people in minority situations, we gain awareness of their experience. We become more aware of their problems at work and in life. But, we must be careful not to ask people experiencing these issues to educate us by telling us about their experiences. It’s our own responsibility to consult resources that will help us better understand their reality and to educate ourselves on the topic by paying close attention to the stories around us.

Step 2: Recognize Your Privilege

Do you have a colleague who adjusts their way of speaking at work? Or have you ever touched a colleague’s hair without asking because you liked the look of it? Here’s an interesting exercise for you. Sit down and take 10 minutes to respond to this list of work-related privileges. What’s your score? Is it high or low? Once you’ve got your score, get to know what you’ve been overlooking in the workplace. Acknowledging that we may have more advantages than others can sometimes be a little hard on our ego, but it’s an opportunity to use that advantage to help those with less of it.

Step 3: Accept Feedback

Wanting to be an ally means expecting to get feedback on our actions, and requesting it too. If someone approaches you and offers you constructive criticism on your behaviour, don’t get angry. Take the time to listen and accept the comments. No one is perfect, but everyone can improve. Instead, ask the person how you can do better next time. This will build a bond of trust between you and the other person.

Step 4: Become a Person of Trust

How do you become a trusted individual in a professional setting? It’s simple! Just be available to listen and listen actively to the experiences of people around you.

Step 5: Make Room at the Table for Diversity

Have you attended a meeting and found it lacking in diverse voices? Why not take the initiative to invite different people to join in? It’s been proven that heterogeneous teams are smarter, more productive, and perform better than homogeneous ones. By the same token, companies that make gender parity are more likely to have better than average financial outcomes for their sector of activity. At your next meeting, take the opportunity to step back from the discussion and ask questions that will showcase your colleagues. A true ally will focus the spotlight on their colleagues to allow them to shine!

Step 6: Become a Sponsor

If you’re already making room for diversity at meetings, it’s time to move to the next step and become a sponsor. Mentor someone you believe in who is different from you. Open doors for people who don’t always have the same opportunities as you. Speak highly about the qualities and accomplishments of your colleagues who go unnoticed. This is a chance to shine a light on those who work in the shadows and to show them your support!

Step 7: Build a Community of Allies

Push the discussion a step further and take concrete action at work by building a community of allies. You’re not alone in your desire to contribute positively to your workplace culture and your colleagues’ well-being. By setting up an ally committee, you’ll transform your organization’s diversity and inclusion policies into tangible acts that guarantee wins for everyone!

By applying these principles to your professional life, you’ll be taking action and becoming a person of trust for your collaborators who are not the same as you. But remember, no one is perfect. If it’s not all smooth sailing on your allyship journey, don’t give up. Keep going. You’ll be even more appreciated because the important thing is to always support others, even when there are obstacles. Ready to change your workplace?


Author profile

Yara El-Soueidi


Yara El-Soueidi is a young journalist who contributes to different cultural media. Her passion for words leads her to explore the emotions and stories in the different narratives she brings to life.