How can you build allyship in the workplace? I found 7 examples of companies doing just that. Before we dive in, here’s what it means to be an ally at work.
What is allyship in the workplace?
Being a good ally means you accept the privilege majority groups have in a professional setting and use it to help break down systems keeping your co-workers from having the same opportunities.
Many companies (like Microsoft) now require mandatory allyship training, workplace activities focused on how to be an ally to marginalized communities and seminars on effective allyship.
Not all businesses are making ally groups mandatory, but here are 7 examples of what some are doing:
Forté’s Male Allies Program
In 2016, Forté launched the “Men as Allies” initiative on 10 business school campuses; the number grew to 41 schools in 3 years.
Elissa Sangster, Forté CEO, says the goal of Men as Allies is:
“to help male students benefit from, and get involved in, enhancing gender equity on campus and to take that experience back to the business world”
In 2018, Forté partnered with PNC Financial Services to take the male allies program to companies like Kaiser Permanente, Webster Bank, and Toronto-Dominion Bank.
In 2020, Forté hosted effective allyship sessions with featured guests:
- Brad Johnson and David Smith — co-authors of Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies to Women in the Workplace and Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women
- Julie Kratz — speaker, inclusive leadership trainer, podcast host, and author of Lead Like An Ally
- Joshua Stewart — Senior Vice President, Director of Talent Soultions, Outreach & Accessibility at PNC
- Ericka Young — Speaker, author, financial coach at Tailor-Made Budgets
(source: How Forté’s Men as Allies Program is Helping Top Companies Support Women — by Lisa Beebe)
Johnson & Johnson’s LBGTQ Allyship Initiative
Johnson & Johnson is supporting LGBTQ allyship with their “broad-based educational initiative to increase awareness and dialogue around allyship, in connection with microaggressions, within and for our LGBTQIA+ community.”
J&J’s allyship program is led by:
- Renée Evans — Learning Management Systems Team Lead
- Glenn Wrightington — Sr. NPI Supply Chain Planning Analyst
- Tiffany Boyer — Sales & Distributor Services Procurement Category Associate
Renée’s goal is to elevate conversations around microaggressions and allyship in the workplace. She says this on J&J’s career page:
“Whether it’s through your manager, HR, Open&Out—our Employee Resource Group for the LGBTQIA+ community—or the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have channels for individuals to go through so that they can continue to learn. Everyone across our entire organization needs to know that this is an inclusive, safe place. And at the end of the day, we’re all still learning.”
Glenn also weighs in, saying:
“My passion for this training stems from conversations with colleagues and family about my involvement with Open&Out, where a reoccurring comment I heard was, ‘I wouldn’t know what to do.’ I realized that there could be many other allies hiding behind that same comment and afraid to step out. Once we launched this initiative, we also realized we needed to expand globally with translations and updates to reflect regional laws and safety. We want to ensure that everyone can bring their best self to the workplace.”
(source: 3 Insights Into Microaggressions From a Leader at Johnson & Johnson)
Kroger’s Resource Group for Black Allies
Kroger offers effective allyship guides to support LGBTQ+ and Asian American Pacific Islander employees. The guide on becoming Black allies (From Awareness to Advocacy) written by the African American Associate ERG focuses on:
- how to be an ally for social justice
- advice on supporting Black colleagues
- allyship diversity terms to know
- book, podcast, and movie recommendations discussing race
(source: What Does Being an Ally Look Like? Companies Offer Training in Support of Black Colleagues — by Patrick Thomas)
Leidos’ Ally Groups for Underrepresented Groups
Leidos has 9 employee resource groups (ERGs) with 3,000+ members. These groups host allyship activities and events to:
“push for equality, it is crucial to understand what it means to stand up for marginalized communities.”
Leidos’ ERG page also lists the benefits of being a good ally:
— You are improving the system for others, as well as yourself.
— You open yourself up to the possibility of close relationships with others.
— You become less locked into stereotypes.
— You have opportunities to learn from, teach, and have an impact on a population with whom you might not otherwise interact.
— You can make a profound difference in the lives of others
(source: Allyship: What it means and how to get involved)
LinkedIn’s Allyship Activities for Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, LinkedIn’s Hispanic/Latinx ERG “HOLA” is creating awareness on how to be an ally to marginalized communities. LeAnn Chaparro, a Senior Recruiter at LinkedIn, explains her excitement for these upcoming events on how to be an ally (& more):
(source: LinkedIn Hispanic Heritage Month)
Microsoft’s Effective Allyship Program
In 2019, Microsoft launched its “global allyship program.” In 2020, they made it virtual AND mandatory for all employees. The reason:
“amid the global chaos of 2020 — including a pandemic requiring remote work and making relationships more challenging, acts of hate toward those with Asian heritage stemming from false rhetoric about the virus, widespread protests against racial injustice following violence against Black and African American people, and increased political tensions.”
The program includes 10 segments in various media appealing to different learning styles. Chief Diversity Officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre says the goal of their allyship in the workplace program is to:
“give Microsoft’s 160,000 employees worldwide the language they need to discuss different viewpoints and difficult things in a way that offers empathy and inclusion to all.”
(source: A different kind of diversity program is inspiring people to be better allies – and be OK with making mistakes — by Susanna Ray)
RingCentral’s LGBTQ/Trans Allyship Group
What does it mean to be an ally to LGBTQ communities? RingCentral creates multiple opportunities for LGBTQ+ allyship in the workplace.
One ally example is the release of their “employee signature templates” that allow employees to use their preferred personal pronouns:
Other allyship activities at RingCentral include:
- creating the “Rainbow Room,” an ERG for LGBTQ allies and employees
- celebrating Transgender Awareness week to help build trans allyship
(source: 31 Companies With Impactful Initiatives to Support Their LGBTQ Employees — by Danielle Agugliaro)
Google’s Allyship in Action Program
Google’s ally program is aimed at antiracism. The program has training workshops, speaker sessions, and a learning focus on critical race theory. In one session called “Allyship in Action” a group of trainers including Google’s head of systemic allyship Randy Reyes and consultants from The Ladipo Group, ask employees to:
“confront their ‘power and privilege’ and rank themselves according to their racial background and sexual orientation.”(source: Yahoo! News)
Liberty Mutual Sponsored “Allyship” DEI Festival
In 2021, Liberty Mutual was a gold sponsor for an allyship-themed DEI festival for the insurance industry. The Dive In 2021 theme was “active allyship” and the sessions covered topics from LGBTQ+ to neurodiversity, generational differences, the work-life balance, mental health, and others.
Here’s what Liberty Mutual VP & Director, Global Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Mariana Fagnilli, said about this allyship event:
“I think the Dive In festival is truly phenomenal in that it’s an opportunity to bring industry competitors together behind shared objectives. DE&I is something that we all need to do better at for the sake of our industry, our employees, and our customers. At Liberty Mutual, we see this as an opportunity, we see the need, and we’re very excited to work with Dive In to bring everyone together and help build a better industry for all.”source: Insurance Business America
Liberty Mutual has also launched Men as Allies and Pride at Liberty ERGs to support allyship.
The 7 A’s of Allyship
Each of the co.s above hone in on at least 1 (or more) of the “7 A’s of Allyship” in their programs to be true allies at work. Here’s a list of the 7A’s (plus a great video giving each some context):
Why I Wrote This
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- 7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like (by Better Allies)
- Allyship at Work | How to Turn Intentions into Actions (by Waajida L. Small)
- White employees see themselves as allies—but Black women and Latinas disagree (by LeanIn.Org)
- 3 Steps to Creating Allyship in the Workplace (by Transperfect)
- How to Be an Ally in the Workplace (by Sage Krombolz)
- What kind of workplace ally are you? (by FinTech Futures)
- Allyship Guides (LGBTQ+, Asian American Pacific Islander & African American) (by Kroger)
- Google Launches Antiracism Program Teaching That America Is a ‘System of White Supremacy’ (by Caroline Downey)
- DE&I about “bringing humanity into the workplace” (by Bethan Moorecraft)
- 7 A’s of Allyship (by the NHS)