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How to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace


We live in a world with a dynamic social climate, and we must be willing to evolve with it to be truly recognized as an ally or advocate. However, the words “ally” and “advocate” are more than just words that describe us as a person – they’re also action words. Ally and advocate as action words means making the effort to remain self-aware, as well as taking action to make changes and correct misperceptions of those in the greater community where we live. In other words, we must learn how to be a better ally in the workplace.

An ally is someone with privileges who notices injustices and takes action by bringing attention to the injustice and requesting that it is corrected. An ally uses his or her privilege to advocate for someone else who does not share the same privilege.

An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy to bring about the removal of barriers to creating opportunities for marginalized groups. An activist is someone who vigorously commits to and campaigns for change, in an effort to be a better ally.

An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy to bring about the removal of barriers to creating opportunities for marginalized groups. An activist is someone who vigorously commits to and campaigns for change, in an effort to be a better ally.

Although sometimes controversial, it is important to be able to identify your own privilege so that you can use this as an advantage when advocating for others. Some characteristics of people who generally enjoy privilege include:

  • White people
  • Able-bodied people
  • Heterosexuals
  • Males
  • English-speaking people

Some people misinterpret the term “privilege” and believe it implies a lack of struggles or hardship in life. In fact, social privilege simply means possessing characteristics that have not specifically created obstacles in education, employment, housing, legal matters, income, etc. A person can enjoy one or more social privileges and still have faced difficulties in life, financial hardships, employment challenges and more. Those with privilege can learn how to be a better ally in the workplace.

Some of the groups who have been historically marginalized, meaning lacking privilege, include:

  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)
  • LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual)
  • AAPI (Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders)
  • Women
  • Members of certain religions
  • Disabled people
  • Elderly people

To aid these marginalized groups in our community, we have to understand how to be a better ally in the workplace. Allyship and advocacy are primarily needed to address:

  • Social Concerns such as the victimization of black citizens by the police or white vigilantes, crimes against Asian Americans due to inflammatory comments around the origins of COVID-19, and the absence of employment protections for LGBTQIA+ Americans in 29 of our 50 states.
  • Women and BIPOC are still very underrepresented in today’s workplace and the income disparities for female workers (especially BIPOC) have yet to be eliminated.

Popular comedian, activist, and YouTube personality Franchesca Ramsey has said we should be uplifting other voices instead of speaking over them.

Keep in mind a true ally:

  • Acknowledges issues
  • Doesn’t speak over others for whom they are advocating
  • Educates and researches
  • Does not center themselves in the narrative
  • Gets involved
  • Does not expect members of marginalized classes to educate them
  • Listens to and believes what they are told by marginalized people
  • Calls out offensive jokes or statements within their own social circle
  • Takes responsibility and works to change

Remember, your inaction or silence on important social issues only helps the oppressors, not the oppressed. Although change and conflict can be uncomfortable, it’s a necessary process to work towards an equitable society for everyone. You can be a better ally in the workplace.


Contributed by:

Kathy Vance

Property Management Content Strategist
Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, Edge2Learn

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