Learn to be an ally in ERGs by recognizing the need for ongoing action and intersectional awareness.
Allyship is a term that is becoming increasingly more popular. Being an ally not an identity. It’s a practice. An ally is someone who takes responsibility for fighting against inequality and injustice as if the struggle were their own. To translate this definition to allyship within an ERG, allies are people who advocate for a fair and just experience for the employees that share a common identity with the group.
If your intention is to join a group as an ally, you should learn what it means to really be one. Allyship is an active thing that must be done over and over again, in the largest and smallest ways, every day. Intersectional allyship is key; you must recognize and address the reality that each ERG member is more than just one thing and they may have different needs.
When endeavoring to be an ally, avoid the following:
1. Performative allyship: acting based on how we want to be perceived (ex. posting support on social media but not taking any actions to produce change);
2. Platitudes: empty statements or gestures;
3. Positional allyship: belief that your role and level in the organization automatically make you an ally (ex. working as an HR Business Partner);
4. Perfectionism: failing to act because you believe you have to do it perfectly or not at all;
5. Savior mentality: doing what YOU think is best for members of a marginalized group rather than asking THEM what they need.
Learn the needs of all of ERG members. Ex. a women’s ERG has women of different races, gender identities, ages, etc. and one size doesn’t fit all. Be inclusive of members’ different experiences and needs. You can also look for ways to connect and partner with other ERGs to create a more intersectional approach.
Use your privilege on behalf of others as a mentor. Be consistent in your efforts - don’t just act when something bad hits the news. Educate the organization on allyship and its importance.
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