Build a Culture of Allies

Now is the time that we look beyond our differences, and look at how we can support one another as allies.  This means that members of diverse groups need to support one another and enlist the support of allies outside of our diverse groups.  Diverse groups are usually defined by gender, LGBTQ, race, or disability, in addition to many more variables.  At Pivot Point, we choose to focus on gender equality because it is often the springboard for other diversity variables.  Because most humans can relate to gender, it starts the conversation from a common place.  Once we address gender challenges, we can then layer in the other diversity variables.  And, we need allies because…

We are stronger together.  We are ONE.

In our research, we found that organizations are wanting to build cultures of allies, where diversity and inclusion is not only appreciated, it is expected.  Allies provide a variety of support – they may play a role as a mentor, advocate, coach, sponsor, or support women as managers.  They play the role she wants and needs them to play.  As women, it is important that we get older white men involved the discussion, also known as the “good old boys club.”  We are not going to solve the gender equality challenge alone, by only talking to other women.  Men are decision makers and need to be included in the process.  And, most men want to help.

Based on our interviews for ONE (review and buy here), we confirmed common traits associated with successful women:  they engage men in their career development as mentors and sponsors, speak up for what they want, and draw clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives.  According to Harvard Business Review, women are 54% less likely than men to have a sponsor.  That’s because men in leadership roles seek to promote those resembling themselves.  As humans, we naturally gravitate towards those that look, behave, and think like us.

Ally strategies

How do we undo this natural wiring?  To build a culture of allies, where unlike and like groups connect and support one another, we believe there are four key strategies:

  • Empathy: Allies channel those in their lives that they empathize, and women leaders start the dialogue with the WIIFM (what’s in it for men)
  • Story Sharing: Allies ask for HERStory, and women leaders share their stories
  • Speaking Up Together: Allies speak up with women, and women leaders speak up with allies
  • Work & Life Integration: Allies do the fair share, and women leaders practice self-care

Reflection exercise

For organizations wanting to foster more allyship and get non-diverse groups (i.e. allies) involved in the diversity conversation, ask yourself:

  • Who have been your allies?
  • How have your allies supported you?
  • What would our culture look like with more allies?
  • What are we missing out on with less allies?
  • What would we gain with more allies?

These questions are great conversation starters for your next team meeting.  Send them in advance to your team with this blog post and ask them to come prepared to discuss their answers.  Create a safe place for vulnerability, story sharing, and dynamic interactions between non-alike groups.  Positive change happens one conversation at a time.  Start the dialogue and you will be surprised what happens next.  Let the gender equality conversation springboard your culture of diversity and inclusion.


I love stories because they stick in our brains.  I was walking the halls of a client last month, and was stopped by a group of men and women, with, “that’s the ally woman!!!”  I had been onsite the previous month to kick off harassment training with the positive behaviors for allies.  In that hallway, they shared with me that since the training on “Build a Culture of Allies,” their team had engaged in very open conversations about gender differences, and were recognizing their allies, and openly calling out bropropriating (male gender socialized behavior including interrupting, over talking, and mansplaining).  They had great examples of positive and negative behaviors where they had applied the strategies.

At Pivot Point, we meet organizations and teams where they are at.  If your team could benefit from this important dialogue, hire us to facilitate a “Build a Culture of Allies” workshop.  We also have an equality assessment to uncover perceptions and build a strategic road map to close the gaps.

Messenge for a free assessment to get started today.