Demonstrating you're an ally goes a long way in making people feel safe to be themselves in your work environment. This can be a surprisingly small gesture that makes a big impact.
- Demonstrating you're an ally goes a long way in making people feel safe to be themselves in your work environment. This is important because research shows that psychological safety is critical in creating work environments where people are comfortable making mistakes, taking risks and being their authentic selves. This is foundational for high performing teams. One way to make people feel safe, welcome, and included is to be an ally. An ally is someone who supports or advocates for individuals who experience marginalization or being treated as though they are insignificant.
Ally's don't necessarily experience that particular marginalization themselves which is why their support is so powerful. Now, let's look at some ways you can signal you're an ally to employees in your organization. One way is to identify yourself as an ally. Prominently place a sticker or sign in your office that lets people know it's a safe space. This surprisingly small gesture can make a big impact particularly on those individuals that have what's considered to be invisible diversity, or characteristics you can't see, such as gender or race.
You can also use preferred pronouns in your email signature or when you introduce yourself. By doing this, you're setting the stage for others to feel comfortable doing the same. This is a powerful signal for those who may otherwise feel uncomfortable sharing their preferred pronouns. For example, my preferred pronouns are she, her, hers. Take some time to reflect on your experiences. Understanding yourself will help you learn more about others. We all experience the world differently.
Having a solid understanding on how your experiences shaped who you are, will give you good perspective for learning from people with different experiences. Finally, accept the limitations of your understanding. Or, as the saying goes, you don't know what you don't know. We literally can't relate to things we haven't experienced or seen. So, we can't sympathize because we don't fully understand. But, we can empathize. It's okay to acknowledge that you don't understand someone's experience.
What's important here, is that you don't have to understand it to legitimize it. Modeling allyship is a great way to demonstrate to your team that you prioritize, making everyone feel psychologically safe and included. For more details on this topic, check out this video for more information on what it means to be an ally. Lead the way for your team by demonstrating you're an ally.
- Creating a shared understanding of why inclusion matters
- Establishing trust
- Using inclusive language
- Providing feedback in diverse teams
- Discovering implicit associations
- Delegating work and opportunities equitably
- How unconscious bias creeps into the hiring process