Written by Miles Bilka, CNP
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many of you are probably familiar with the concepts of Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These are values that, when adopted, can help organizations to operate in a more equitable way. But, how familiar are you with Allyship?

In a recent announcement, Dictionary.com has chosen allyship for its 2021 Word of the Year. “Allyship” is defined as “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.” 

You might be asking yourself, “What actions do I need to embody to achieve Allyship at my organization? What does being an Ally actually look like?” Like any worthwhile effort, Allyship requires deliberate and intentional involvement throughout your personal and professional life. Just because you have similar or aligned goals doesn’t necessarily make you an ally. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Show Your Humanity

In order to truly understand Allyship and effect meaningful change, you will need to go back to the basics. As much as we are different, we have the most important commonality. We are all HUMAN! Take the time to get to know the people around you in your community and at your organization. Dive deeper than just, “how was your weekend?”. Acknowledge and celebrate those milestones, special moments, holidays and events that are happening in their lives. Being an active participant in your coworkers’ lives will not only bring a sense of togetherness but will also help you quickly determine if something is wrong. With the unrest in our communities, your friends might be experiencing disengagement, exclusion or simply be burned out. As nonprofit professionals, we make a career out of changing the world. With turmoil all around us, we can easily become overwhelmed and feel discouraged.

  • Bring Diversity to The Table

Let’s face it, we all aren’t the same. Acknowledging and celebrating our differences is one of the most important steps in Allyship. Diverse perspectives will always foster new and innovative ideas. Rather than alienating each other, work together and lean on each other’s strengths. Make Diversity a priority at your organization by insisting on diverse and inclusive hiring practices. Encourage participation throughout the entire organization (don’t forget your board members and volunteers!). Use your entire organization to develop change together.

  • Educate Yourself on the Issues that are Important to your Community

Take the first step. Learn what you know, and what you don’t know yet. Listen to others and accept and understand their feedback. One of the first things that individuals must acknowledge in adopting social equity is that we all possess problematic beliefs and attitudes. It is up to us to challenge those beliefs and educate ourselves. Click below to read the essay “We’re All Problematic…But How to Work Through the Issues We Perpetuate” at The Body Is Not An Apology. 

  • Be Visible in Your Support

Move your thinking into action! It should not be a question if you are an Ally or not. There is no passive approach to Allyship. You cannot just sit back and expect change to happen around you without participating. Wake up every day with the intent of being an ally to the other members of your community. Share resources, have honest conversations and be ready to listen!

Following in Dictonary.com’s footsteps, we encourage you to embrace allyship throughout your personal and professional life. Want to take your new knowledge of Allyship further? Our newest 3-course certificate, Leaders for Equity & Social Justice, is designed to help your organization embrace Allyship, Justice, Diversity, Equity and inclusion as values essential to advancing its mission.

The goal is for this work to be a positive disruption – that will lead to greater organizational success, creative, productive, and focused staff, and enhanced organization outcomes. Register today for a limited time offer of $100 (savings of $50)!