Allyship is a type of relationship that goes beyond friendship. It involves supporting someone at a personal or professional level to be more successful than that person would be trying to succeed alone.
To embrace allyship, it is important to understand that people from marginalized groups are not habitually offered the same opportunities, support, and recognition that other people receive. Allyship is defined as a member of a privileged group actively supporting a member from a marginalized group to advance or succeed.
Allyship can take seven forms.
A sponsor actively supports a member from a marginalized group by mentioning the person’s name and pointing out accomplishments and skills to people in the position to determine job assignments, promotions, or hires.
A champion helps members from marginalized groups gain recognition that they may not receive if they did not have a champion helping them. Champions defer to people from marginalized groups when looking for feedback, not just on racial issues, but all subject matters. Champions also may make sure members from marginalized groups are represented in meetings, on panels, and in projects.
Advocates are people in high-power positions or exclusive organizations who use their membership to usher qualified people in marginalized groups into the organization, club, or position. Advocates understand that members of marginalized groups may not even be aware that the organization or club exists because they have historically been excluded from participating in the group.
An amplifier tries to improve the entire culture or communality by making sure marginalized groups are represented in a wide range of roles, positions, or areas that require a variety of titles, skills, training, and education. An amplifier can be a community leader, HR recruiter, CEO, or any other position that can influence culture or community diversity.
A scholar is an ally who attempts to learn about the obstacles marginalized people face. Scholars listen and respect marginalized peoples’ perspectives and experiences and does research to understand how to best support members of marginalized groups. The scholar never acts as an expert or attempts to present individual opinions or perspectives about the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups but seeks to listen, learn, and understand.
The upstander is a vocal or active defender of marginalized groups. If someone expresses an offensive or stereotypical view of a marginalized group, the upstander will vocally oppose the offensive remark or view, even if a member of the marginalized group is not a part of the conversation. Upstanders also intervene if they witness a member of a marginalized group being mistreated or disrespected.
The confidant is an ally who provides a safe outlet for someone who needs to vent or think through a tough experience. The confidant will patiently listen without judgement or even feedback (unless the person asks for it) for a person to feel supported when they are reacting to an unpleasant encounter or situation.
Because being privilege involves more than assignment to a race or gender, anyone can be an ally to someone in an underrepresented group. A person can be an ally for someone in one situation and need an ally in another situation. Allyship, in its numerous forms, is a way to involve yourself when addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges.
By Paulette Tiggs