My very first recollection of the word “Allies” was back in middle school. It was in a school debate in a Simulated United Nations Council as an inquisitive 12-year-old that I understood the true power of Allyship for nations. A simple meaning that I tacitly derived was a group of nations in helpful association, called treaties, with another group of nations. What I learnt in the process was that the power of “Allied” nations changes the course of how countries work with each other, in socio-political environments, influence economic growth and overcome the threat of war. All pretty darn good Super Powers I must say!
Being All-In with Allyship
Workplaces today across geographies, cultures, and economic and social influences are no less of a representation of a so called Simulated United Nations. The power in “Allyship” today to educate, unite, help and grow individuals goes way beyond in every macro level of personal and professional relationships. It is showing up and uplifting colleagues, mentees, friends, acquaintances of underrepresented groups in an empathic and educated way. We see more and more “Allyship” being a crucial part both inside and outside of our working institutions. Building a diverse and creative workplace is a flagship priority for enterprises to nurture all possible inclusive behaviors.
Know Your Allies
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goes across professed and non-professed groups in terms of gender, race, and sexual orientation. Supporting people with accessibility needs, supporting women, supporting people of color, and supporting the LGBTQ community. Much less traversed but I would even include the “good guys” aka men who form strong allies and take intentional unbiased action towards diversity, inclusion and advocacy for these groups.
The Y factor for Women Leaders
In her acceptance speech, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made a request of America’s children. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”
Per a Research Study from Penn Law we see a widespread pattern of how women face criticism and various detractors to their growth.
- 58% of the 52 women interviewed reported having been criticized for being soft spoken or “not assertive enough,” which is very subjective;
- 54% indicated they have been hesitant to take on leadership roles because of criticism of their behavior; and
- 71% said they had been reluctant to speak up or speak frequently in meetings or group settings because of criticism of their behavior.
The effectual journey and success of Kamala Harris as the first woman of color, biracial Black-Indian woman being nominated by a major party for the vice presidency is a marker of major gender and racial progress in U.S. society. It is testimony to the fact that women of all backgrounds have accomplished important outcomes and many leadings despite hostile or biased workplace settings.
Allyship is a significant factor in successful culture change and build the mindset of grit and resilience in women in tech and in multiple male dominated industries. It’s a weighty catalyst that empowers women to hold their fort, rally their teams and drive change and growth for their respective organizations. Allyship leans in to the culture change, to create and maintain an inclusive environment. We NEED our Allied counterparts as trusted partners to ensure we are presented with equal opportunities and in turn erasing some of the factors as to why women are losing interest in certain careers such as STEM. Allyship can open doors, broaden networks and advocate for female emerging leaders.
Power up your Y Factors
In my quest for tapping into what makes Allyship work for women, here are the Y factor aka power skills that can transform women’s workplace and professional experiences. In my earlier blog, I share what is the Y factor and how multiple women shared their transformation stories towards their growth and success.
Here are 5 ways you can take intentional inclusive actions and take advantage of allyship, form allies in systemic improvements and gaining the power skills to go with it.
- Being Self Aware: Train on Soft skills on Self-Management that make you aware and empower you to gain confidence, understand your stress factors, willingness to change and build personal credibility. These have demonstrated how you can understand your own strengths, weaknesses and seek help in coaching and mentorship allies.
- Understanding Unconscious Bias: It is not enough to just be self-aware but also understand factors that cause inequities in workplaces. Inequities in not overt actions of unacceptable behavior but also in subtle ways of unconscious bias. For example, female leaders, particularly female leaders of color, are often disparaged more starkly and receive personality-based feedback instead of skills-based feedback. Marginalized group members have long noted these experiences, but majority group members often miss the subtler signs of bias. 50 ways to fight gender bias
- Understanding your Privilege: Arduously going through the practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, by which a person holding privilege and power actively seeks to uplift his or her allies, goes a long way. For example, understanding the privilege men can have in being allies to empower women, understanding the privilege one has in empowering minority communities or a person with disabilities and systematically helping can transform societally and in workplaces.
- Networking and forming Allies: Make a conscious effort to know who you have worked with who share a positive energy and share constructive feedback. Be proactive and seeking out cross functional sponsors and mentors or even outside your organization. Attend networking events, offer to volunteer and often reach out people you want to learn from or stay connected. Be an Ally to a person in need. Be involved in peer coaching. How can you help
- Bringing Diversity to the table: Organizations both big and small are breaking legacy barriers by bringing in necessary training, awareness and leadership efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion. Be it in the Hiring processes, or promotions, providing adequate opportunities for growth or bringing in champions, diversity and inclusion fosters allyship and brings in revolutionary changes in organization resilience. Harvard Business Review Article captures How to be a Better Ally
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