What Is Allyship and Why Is It Important?

Did you know that the word Allyship is the first word to ever be added to the dictionary and chosen as word of the year in the same year? According to Dictionary.com, the frequency of the word Allyship has surged an average of 700% since 2011 and rose steeply in 2020 and 2021. It has been popularized in the context of social justice but is also increasingly being extended to other contexts. Allyship is now appearing more in areas outside of racial, gender, and sexual identity, such as disability and economic status.

What is Allyship?

Allyship is defined by dictionary.com as the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.
Photo: Dictionary.com, LLC, all rights reserved.

Allyship, in its simplest form, is the act of advocating for marginalized people while not being a member of that marginalized group. It’s a set of actions that may be overlooked or underappreciated but help to provide equal opportunities for people. Allyship, when practiced correctly, can be a very powerful tool for social change. It can help to eliminate racism, sexism, classism, and more.

Why Is Allyship Important?

Allyship is important because it helps to dismantle the systems that are in place that keep marginalized groups in their place. Allyship sparks innovation because it can help to disrupt the ways things are done, which in turn helps to disrupt the status quo. It also helps with detecting and reducing unconscious and conscious biases. At the end of the day, Allyship fosters stronger social connections both in personal life and at work which can translate into being happier and more productive.

Being an Ally in Your Everyday Life

The thing about allyship is that it’s not just one moment or event – it’s a lifestyle. You have to remember that you always have opportunities to be an ally to someone else and you should always be looking out for the next chance to practice allyship. There are many ways to be an ally but here are some ways to get started today!

Below are a few ways you can be an ally in everyday life:

  1. Educate yourself about the people you’re allying with
  2. Use your privilege to empower others
  3. Support people in their endeavors
  4. Listen without judgement
  5. Speak up against injustice
  6. Share your resources with marginalized groups
  7. Speak up against microaggressions
  8. Listen to people in their own language
  9. Say “I believe you” when someone shares their experience
  10. Don’t expect gratitude
  11. Don’t expect anything in return

Being an Ally in Your Profession

Allyship is often most difficult when it is in the workplace. This is because the people you encounter on a daily basis may not be the ones who need support or you may fear retaliation for speaking out. There are many ways you can be an ally to marginalized people in your workplace, whether it’s how you talk about their race, sexuality, gender, etc. It can be difficult to be an ally at times, but you have to remember that you are doing something good.

Here are some ways you can practice allyship in your profession:

  1. If a marginalized person is being attacked for something they have done, stand up for them.
  2. Don’t judge or dismiss others based on their identity.
  3. Learn from others who are different from you and be open to new ideas.
  4. Educate yourself on issues of privilege and power.
  5. Replace non-inclusive language with more inclusive langauge.
  6. Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
  7. Put your words into action and take a stand when necessary.
  8. Share your knowledge and resources.
  9. Join an Employee Resource Group (ERG) or start one at your workplace.

Conclusion

The thing about allyship is that it’s not just one moment or event – it’s a lifestyle. You have to remember that you are always an ally to someone else and you should always be looking out for the next opportunity to practice allyship. The best way to be an effective ally is to listen to people of marginalized groups. You can’t be an advocate and raise their voice if you are always talking.

Acts of allyship don’t always have to be big or flashy – it can be something as simple as making sure there are diverse books on the library shelves or not using non-inclusive language in everyday conversation. It’s acknowledging that your privilege is not universal and making sure that you don’t speak for anyone that doesn’t have the same privilege you do. Allyship isn’t something you are, it’s something you do.