Being an ally means building relationships with people oppressed by their identity, as well as with those privileged by it, so you can challenge the latter in their thinking. Allyship is an ongoing learning process. It involves a lot of listening, but it’s also a solid commitment to action.
A key aspect of allyship is acknowledging that the experience of all marginalized groups is not the same. And there is one group in particular that has it harder in the workplace: Black women. Lean In’s 2020 State of Black Women in Corporate America report noted, “Women are having a worse experience than men. Women of color are having a worse experience than white women. And Black women, in particular, are having the worst experience of all.”
How can you be committed to non-complacency and truly be an ally for Black women at your company?
Know the facts.
Start by taking the time to understand relevant data about your Black women colleagues. From there, you can proactively look for ways to support them – such as uncovering inequities in your company’s processes, policies, and culture.
- Turn to sources such as McKinsey & Company’s Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience in the US Private Sector
- Expand your media exposure. Try podcasts like Gallup’s Cultural Competence. Another positive step is to follow more Black women leaders in your industry on social media.
Speak up against stereotypes.
Here’s where taking action comes into play. Go beyond understanding how racialized and gendered stereotypes emerge in the workplace, and speak up when you hear them happen. Question stereotypes by highlighting what’s problematic about them. Then, help others to reframe them in more equitable ways.
- Lead by example. For instance, if you hear a Black woman described as “having an attitude” when the same behavior in a white or male counterpart is accepted as a sign of positive leadership, ask, “What makes you say she has an attitude?” And you could reframe this by saying, “She’s extroverted and vocal, which is just what we need to move this initiative forward.”
Recognize Black women and their contributions.
Call attention to their positive achievements, especially if they have been overlooked. Keep this in mind, especially when your audience includes senior managers.
Most importantly, just start somewhere.
Self-reflect on how you might make a difference and then make a plan to do just that. Remember, it’s an ongoing journey. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.
The Accurate Staffing team is committed to developing professionals in healthcare, industrial and other fields as they become better at what they do – including growth in allyship as they add value to their organizations and depth to their personal lives. With five branches in three states, we’re here to help you build your career and your future or find your next great opportunity. Reach out to us today to learn more.