COVID-19 has revealed that we are not only facing one pandemic. Instead, we are facing two: both COVID-19 and racism. It is important to ensure that we are all doing the work to prevent prejudice from limiting the opportunities of those of underrepresented backgrounds. D.E.I. Advocates Glenn Block & Kyle Marian took the time to sit down with MilleniVision as we discussed how to practice what you preach when it comes to “ALLYSHIP”. We broke down the important points and made a guide on “Becoming a better ally in your workplace”.
Glenn said it perfectly, “If you are not actively fighting against it (oppression in the workplace), then you are supporting it.” Read that again.
We can all do better; yes even you, who attended the anti-racism training. Yes, you who advocates for transgender rights. Yes, you who posted a black square on instagram. We can all be a better ally in the workplace, and here’s how:
Basically, anyone being harmed in your workplace needs an ally. Now harm is NOT always a slur at the watercooler. Harm in the workplace comes in many forms. It may be microaggressions, or a co-worker of a different race, gender, ethnicity, or ability to not receive a similar salary as you. Kyle noted “we all have different levels of power within a space, so how are YOU going to use it?” Well let’s see!
My black co-worker and I were discussing salaries when we discovered that I make a significant more amount of money than she does. We both do the same job. We both perform at a similar level. Now as a white woman, it would be very easy for me to say to myself “Well that’s a shame...It’s unfair but, salary negotiations are awkward as it is...I shouldn’t bring it up---” NOPE. If you want to truly be an ally in this situation, hold the management accountable.
Glenn says at Microsoft (where he currently works) accountability especially toward management has been key in workplace allyship. As an employee (and ally) you have the right to question management, especially when it comes to mistreatment of fellow employees. This is the energy we need.
Hold people in power accountable. Ask the hard questions. “Why isn’t this person making the same amount of money as me?” Be prepared to advocate for your co-worker. “She (or he) does excellent work for this company.” Have examples. Use your privilege. There is a difference between acknowledging it and utilizing it.
I’m a new hire at my job. While adjusting to my new work environment, I begin to realize this institution is not doing much when it comes to inclusivity. I want to be an ally here but it feels nearly impossible because of the structure of this organization. Kyle recently had a friend experience, just, this. She moved across the country to do D.E.I. work. However, upon arrival, she realized the job wasn’t as promised and in turn the white fragility of the company was harming her.
it is not worth risking your mental and emotional health for. If you are in a marginalized group and you enter an organization where you are not supported, it is okay to walk away. Now I know we’re talking about being an ally here, and it is the job of those who are on the path of allyship to try and change this but the experts agreed allyship in the workplace does not fall on one person.
As a non-marginalized employee at a company like this? Listen. Listening in allyship is just as important in allyship as speaking up is. Listening to co-workers stories and giving them space to express frustrations in this workplace is also being an ally.
Your work isn’t done here, ally, you still have a lot of educating to do. We’ll even give you a place to start. Here’s a great book that Glenn referenced multiple times: “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
Full Interview via Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mifnyNp4X-I