How to Be an Ally Without Making It About You


Many of us know that an ally is someone who is helpful to people different from themselves. But not many people realize that there are different types of allyship.

Active allyship drives systemic change through individual actions. In the workplace, it means getting involved in employee resource groups, as well as mentoring and sponsoring workers of different races, ethnicities, genders, abilities and more. Leaders who are active allies elevate and amplify the voices of others.

Conversely, performative allyship is about the ally’s ego. Someone who exhibits this type of allyship proclaims they are an ally without actually doing the work. These individuals focus on how being an ally reflects well on them, rather than on how to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) to support others’ success.

To act as an ally, we recommended an umbrella approach—choosing to be a mentor, sponsor, challenger or coach. It’s more of a “choose-your-own-adventure” way of being an ally. And allyship doesn’t stop in the workplace. You can’t be a successful ally at work if you’re not willing to practice active allyship in your personal spaces—whether that’s with your family, community or network.

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Recipe to Allyship

People often ask what they should do to become an active ally. Consider these questions as guideposts to help direct your thinking…

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