Allyship is Key in a Successful Workplace

Allyship is Key in a Successful Workplace

Categories: Professional Development|Published On: May 27, 2022|4.8 min read|
About the Author

Syazana Khan

A communications specialist and technology wordsmith with over 2 years experience in the IT and professional development training arena.

AMA Series: The Key to a Successful Workplace? Allyship. 

The DDI’s Diversity & Inclusion Report surveyed more than 15,000 and 2,000 HR executives which resulted in only 27% saying that they felt ‘inclusion’ is a strong pillar of culture and value within their organization. Similarly, only 22% of business leaders reported that they stepped up to the plate to challenge by recognizing and eliminating biases held within the company. The lack of inclusion has had a terrible impact, causing disproportionately high turnover rates among members of historically excluded groups. 

There are plenty of training and articles discussing various forms of microaggressions, focusing on how one can intervene in the moment – an incredibly crucial component of allyship. To add to the method of intervening, there are a few other ways you can show support and solidarity with people who experience microaggression, systemic caused inequality and various other barriers to opportunity – one of which is through micro affirmation.

Contrary to microaggression, micro affirmations are small ways to affirm someone’s identity, provide recognition and validate their experience, build back their confidence, re-grow trust and foster a sense of belonging. These are all important elements in helping mitigate and disrupt the terribly awful and harmful narratives that have been spewed as part of historical oppression, political leverage, cultural marginalization, systemic inequality and individually held biases. And in all of this, the most important thing to have are – allies. Allies, that will stick by to provide these micro affirmations.

It’s important to have people that you can trust, people that would play the role of an ally. Everyone needs allies—in their personal life, as they move along their career path and at their place of work. And a small but massively significant point to note is that more than a friend or mentor, what the ally provides is a safe space, a common ground with coworkers, speaking out or taking action when discrimination occurs and supporting, advocating for, and championing others. An organization that fosters allyship can make significant strides toward achieving a diverse and inclusive culture where people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, creeds, and sexual orientations can feel truly welcome and valued for their contributions. Unfortunately, not every workplace provides formal allyship training.

Instead of sitting back and waiting for your company to teach you how to practise allyship, you can take start taking proactive steps. What’s more, practising allyship isn’t reserved for C-suite executives or HR directors. Managers, team members, and individual contributors at every level can develop the skills and, most importantly, the awareness to become an ally to all kinds of people at work and, in turn, an asset to the entire organization.

If you have been thinking of becoming an ally at the workplace, but you’re not quite sure where and how to start, this is what the blog post aims to do. The first and foremost suggestion would be to educate yourself to better understand how to find common ground with people who do not look or sound like you, and who might also think, behave, dress, worship, or love in ways that are different from you. To truly open your mind to learning about diverse coworkers, you must be prepared to acknowledge your own biases—and then work to overcome those ingrained assumptions by changing your perspective and habits of talking about people.

A good way to find common ground with different people is through language. The language we use can unite us or divide us. To become an ally, make a conscious effort to change any divisive language. Avoid the use of the words “all/them/they” when referring to certain groups of people. Instead, think in terms of “some” and “we.” By using the word “some,” you’ll break down stereotypes. And when you use “we,” you emphasize a sense of shared purpose and also make yourself accountable for the results or consequences.
Changing how you think and speak about coworkers across the spectrum of individual differences is at the foundation of allyship. But allies must also be prepared to back their thoughts and words with action. The experts at American Management Association (AMA) emphasize three key strategies for becoming a vigilant, committed ally in the workplace:

1. Assess the situation.

If you witness something that appears to violate principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, ask yourself:
• What do I see?
• What can I identify as fair vs. unfair?
• Is there an opportunity for development?
• Are other people observing this?
• What is the potential impact of organizational politics?

2. Evaluate your position.

Take some time to seriously consider:
• How can I influence this situation?
• What is my perspective on the situation?
• What’s the position of the person I wish to support?
• Who can I talk to about this?

3. Act .

Once you’re clear on the situation and your position, it’s time for action. But before you forge ahead, stop, think, and determine:
• What actions can I take?
• What actions should I avoid?
• When is the most appropriate time to act?
• Who will be affected by my actions and how?
Being an ally isn’t always easy. There’s much to learn—and unlearn—and you’re bound to make mistakes. Yet, with the right knowledge, a genuine commitment, heightened awareness, and, last but not least, practice, you can excel at allyship to help create a more diverse and inclusive workplace for the benefit of everyone.


American Management Association (AMA) is globally recognized as a leader in professional development. For nearly 100 years, it has helped millions of people bring about positive change in their performance in order to improve results. AMA’s learn-by-doing instructor-led methods, extensive content, and flexible learning formats are proven effective—and constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and organizations.

American Management Association Online Professional Development and Management Training Programs.

Learn with the guidance of our renowned faculty and top business authorities, and using fully interactive technology. AMA virtual training experiences will keep you engaged, provide you with insightful feedback and foster accountability.

You’ll get practical skills you can apply immediately on the job—thus helping to ensure a meaningful ROI for your organization.

About the Author

Syazana Khan

A communications specialist and technology wordsmith with over 2 years experience in the IT and professional development training arena.