How to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace

By McKenzie Schwark
Features Writer

An inclusive and safe workplace is important so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their highest potential. It’s important to act as an ally in every space, but it can be especially important in the workplace where marginalized people might not feel as safe or comfortable voicing their concerns. Here are some ways you can offer allyship in the workplace: 

Understand what true allyship looks like

Being a true ally means committing to doing the hard work for the long haul. It isn’t just liking Instagram posts and moving on. Being an ally means being willing to stand up when a coworker is experiencing discrimination and using your privilege when necessary. According to Dr. Waajida L. Small, there are three core behaviors that make a good ally:

  1. Knowledge and awareness
    • It’s important to educate ourself on what the experience of your marginalized coworkers might be like even if you will never fully understand their experiences.
  2. Communication and confrontation
    • It’s important to take the education and resources you have and share them with your coworkers and colleagues who may not be as educated on the topic.
  3. Action and advocacy
    • Publicly support and promote marginalized groups and engage with those who are doing similar work.

Make way for marginalized voices

Everyone deserves to have their voice heard, but not everyone gets an equal shot. Part of advocating for your coworkers means using your own voice to make room for theirs. That means speaking up when their ideas are passed over or interrupted, and advocating for opportunities where marginalized colleagues can freely and openly voice their ideas or concerns. 

Commit to doing the hard work

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Being an ally means being in it for the long haul, not just when it’s popular or convenient. Being an ally takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it to build a more equitable workplace. Dedicate yourself to doing the hard work in order to make that happen!

Advocate for hiring and promotions

It’s important to use your privilege to promote the success of marginalized people. More diversity in leadership positions and across companies means a more ethical and inclusive work environment and can open doors for other marginalized people. 

Creating inclusive workplaces is vital to the success of every company and its employees. When marginalized people succeed, we all succeed, and diversifying the workplaces has the potential to make big, impactful change. But it starts small: With you educating yourself, standing up for your colleagues, and being a better ally at work.