What is allyship and why should we encourage it amongst non-minorities?
The Anti-Oppression Network defines Allyship as:
an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group.
Allies are intentional about disrupting systemic imbalances. They are invested in the work even when it’s messy or doesn’t come with applause. There cannot be true diversity, inclusion, and equity without intentional allies.
In this day and age, almost anyone can be an ally. For example, while this list is not exhaustive, non-minorities can be allies to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), men can be allies to women, persons defining as cis can be allies to the LGBTQIA+ community, able-bodied people can be allies to persons who are differently-abled.
So what are some tangible things that allies can do?
- Invite others to the table.
- Extend opportunities for growth; offer support.
- Respect the experiences of others and not view discussion of these experiences as being attacked.
- Educate one’s self and grow.
I offer these additional considerations for potential allies, adapted from The Anti-Oppression Network:
- How much space are you occupying in conversations? Are you mindful of the space you take up in a room?
- How might you improve access to your meetings?
- How much do you know about the people you seek to work with? What are the assumptions about their identity that are being made?
- Who should be present but isn’t and what can you do to include them?
The late, great politico Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman in Congress and the first woman and Black person to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties, said “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” An ally committed to diversity and inclusion would be intentional about making sure that members of marginalized identities not only know about the meeting but that they have a seat at the table.
The Chamber positions diversity, equity, and inclusion as critical for business maturation and growth. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative (DEI) drives economic competitiveness, highlights diverse employee populations, and promotes inclusive growth throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.