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.
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 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.
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.