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I’ve got your back: How to be an authentic ally

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The following article was written and published prior to the spinoff of Syensqo in December 2023 and may feature activities, solutions, and markets from both Solvay and Syensqo.

Did you know that people who feel they have an ally on their side are twice as likely to feel like they belong in their organization, and to be satisfied with their workplace culture and job? Very interesting! But what does it actually mean to be an ally? And how can both companies and employees step up to be the partner their peers need?

What allyship means

In general, an ally is defined as ‘someone who provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity or struggle’.

In the context of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), an ally is someone who recognizes the unique privilege and power they have, and chooses to use it to drive change to policies and practices that discriminate against different groups.

In short, allies are people who support and advocate for others. And for a company’s DEI efforts, allies are crucial. Allies help foster an ‘all-together mindset’ that promotes a culture of acceptance, and increases a shared sense of belonging. This is because allies help amplify the voices of others, and make people feel less alone knowing there is someone fighting their corner.

Avoiding performative allyship

Allyship isn’t just about recognizing the inequities surrounding us, it’s also about taking tangible steps to level the playing field.
In today’s DEI landscape, however, performative allyship is still a common pitfall. What is performative? People or entities that loudly talk the talk without actually walking the walk. Here, those with privilege express solidarity and promote change for others, but don’t actually use their resources and power to make change.

Authentic allyship means actually showing up.

Infographic Authentic vs Performative Allyship

How you can be an authentic ally in the workplace

By showing up for others on a routine basis, colleagues can create a positive ripple effect that inspires others to step up and be change agents.

One way Solvay colleagues can demonstrate allyship is by joining one of our Employee Resource Groups in order to learn more about the experiences and challenges of others, and to seize opportunities to support peers and connect more deeply. All of Solvay’s ERGs are open to anyone willing to listen, share, learn and grow.

Another way to be an ally is to speak up on behalf of colleagues if you witness actions that run counter to company values. Solvay’s own Speak Up program provides employees with a safe space and formal process to call out discriminatory and unethical behavior. 

How to be a better ally in the workplace


How Solvay strives to be an authentic corporate ally

Allyship is not a one-off effort, but an ongoing engagement. As a company, we think it’s crucial to continuously evaluate our own behaviors and proactively invest in implementing strategies and actions that promote equity.

For example, we recently partnered with Out & Equal, a non-profit organization, to advance belonging and equity in the workplace for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, through training and best practices exchange. And we are in the process of auditing the accessibility of all our sites, so we can create a global accessibility roadmap that will make our workplace more inclusive for everyone.

Infographic How Solvay Strives to Be a Strong Ally

To learn more about the programs in the infographic above, visit: 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

And as an ally, remember this…

Strong allies need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Allyship is all about learning, unlearning, and relearning, which will sometimes take us out of our comfort zones. Don’t avoid challenging discussions. Be open. Listen. And be ready to face a new perspective. After all, as a society, we can’t achieve progress if we only scratch the surface.