Have you heard about "Allyship"?
I came across this term for the first time a month or so ago. In essence, it is in the line of "sponsorship" at work, however, it goes beyond that.
From the information in the LeanIn website, many people have heard about it, however, most people don't really understand what it is. Following their given definition, "Allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege."
And, they continue, "... our society is set up in ways that prioritise some groups over others…. In the workplace, studies show that leaders are more likely to mentor people who remind them of themselves…and since most leaders are white men, that means that it is often easier for white men to find mentors…"
Let me put a break here before continuing with the "allyship" definition. If you have read my newsletter about persuasion a couple of weeks ago, (or if you are participating in The Monthly Coach sessions) you will remember that one of the persuasion principles, as per Dr. Robert Cialdini, is Liking. So, here we have the Liking persuasion principle into action from a completely different perspective. In other words, if you are looking for a mentor, it will be easier to be considered (liked) if you, somehow, are perceived as likeable by your prospective mentor. And this is also why it is more difficult for women to find mentors because there are not so many women out there to look up to as mentors... Have that in mind.
Let's continue with allyship, as per LeanIn research… "Allyship involves understanding inequities and taking concrete steps to help level the playing field… to show up as allies we have to take action…. Because, as said before (it is worthy to repeat)… Allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege."
Taking action can be tricky and uncomfortable, however, the workplace will only be a more fair environment when the ones with "a voice", step forward and speak up. In my coaching and training, women leaders from all different levels complain about the very same thing… that on several occasions they are interrupted by their male colleagues when they are expressing their views or ideas. And in many cases, to be able to have a voice is such an effort that they eventually give up altogether and remain silent… How sad and "dangerous" is that?
Dangerous for both sides, I believe. For professional women, especially the ones in leading roles, if they do not "insist in having a saying" they will eventually be silenced for good… (or, for bad, I would prefer to say). For the company, and the team, that also means that they will have limited views on specific topics, as their decisions will tend to be based on the views of the same people, or the people who are pushing themselves forward by silencing the others.
What to do then, you might ask?
This is why the awareness that "allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege", is crucial for every professional.
If you are leading a meeting, and experience a situation like that happening, you could stop the "pushers", and establish a balanced order of speaking opportunities to every person participating in the meeting, and control that, to make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity to share their views.
If you are in a particular meeting and the meeting leader is not acting to prevent some people from silencing others, if you are a person who also has a voice, you can find ways to interrupt and "pass the voice" to the ones being silenced.
For example, let's say Peter is our man who is always eager to have a saying and interrupts everybody else. When Peter interrupts Mary, you could interrupt Peter and say, "Peter, let's listen to Mary's point of view", or "Peter, let's see what Mary has to say about it…", or even, "Peter (for God sake!), please wait for your turn…"...anything in this line.
Also, if someone else "steals someone's point given previously", (let's call him John) you can also interrupt and say, "that is right John, Mary made this point before. Mary, can you share it again?"...
You get the picture, don't you?
Not acting can be more harmful than we can imagine. Because it can send signals that our working place is not a fair place, that not everyone has a fair share… and that can demotivate people… and unmotivated people are trouble for any team, therefore, business.
When experiencing those situations, as per LeanIn research, you can ask yourself: "is there an action I can take that is responsible, even if it is not perfect?"
Bear in mind that allyship is not about perfection (have I told you that I don't believe in perfection?), instead, "it is about consistently acting in situations where you realise that there is injustice of some kind." And, acting consistently towards preventing that, is at the core of what allyship is. To make a difference, we all need to "commit to pushing for change over the long term".
Allyship is also about…"support and advocate for people with less privilege." This is why it is important to speak up, when you see people around you being treated unfairly.
And, you…., (and I, and all the women out there), have to commit to yourself (ourselves) to have a voice. There is no such thing as a silent leader, silent entrepreneur, or silent business owner. To progress in your career or business, you have to have a voice.
Women have to take stands and express their ideas, views, openly without the fear of being criticised. Well, you will be criticised by some. However, if you are speaking from your heart, from a place that is aligned with your values and principles, with the intention to give your best, you have nothing to fear. The ones who are aligned with your values and principles, will respect you and will thank you for speaking up and sharing the light.
The rest? Don't worry about them. They will follow the ones their values and principles are aligned to. So…
And this is also why I keep insisting that effective communication is what will give you the tools, the courage and the confidence to position yourself as a leader in your company and business.
Allyship is something to be learned. Especially for us women. We are the first ones who need to understand what it is, how it works, and how to apply it so we can spread this knowledge among our colleagues, peers, family and friends.
And, we are the first ones who need to show our alliance towards other women. Don't forget that.
If you want to know more about Allyship, click here to access all the information in the LeanIn platform.
And here is what we all have to have in mind: "putting allyship into practice, at work and in life in general, is about creating equity of opportunities, at all levels, to everyone."
PS picture credit to LeanIn wesbsite