Are you an inclusion and equality active ally?

When striving for workplace equality, the role of an active ally is key. An active ally is someone who not only believes in equality but takes concrete actions to challenge discrimination and bias. Despite the progress that’s been made, workplaces worldwide still grapple with pervasive issues of bias and discrimination.  You can make a big difference by becoming an active ally – and creating a workplace culture that supports active allyship. It doesn’t require special skills but demands the right attitude, starting with a willingness to listen, learn, and act.


The Power of Active Allyship

Active allyship operates on both an individual and collective level. On an organisational scale, it involves nurturing a workplace culture where individuals can bring their whole selves to work. While workshops, policies, and initiatives play a role, the essence of an active allyship culture lies in the simple yet impactful daily actions that make people feel comfortable, accepted, and valued.

Language is a powerful tool in creating an inclusive environment. Using appropriate language and understanding terminologies contribute significantly to making people feel welcomed, creating a sense of genuine belonging. Workshops can be useful for developing understanding, advocating inclusive behaviours, and highlighting the benefits of a diverse workplace. But of course, creating an active allyship culture is more than just a checklist; it’s about nurturing an environment where diversity and inclusion thrive naturally.


Leadership’s Role in Allyship

Senior leadership plays a pivotal role in the success of an active allyship culture. When people at the top levels of an organisation embrace and embody allyship, it sends a powerful message. This is about putting people at the heart of the business and developing a workplace culture where individuals can be authentic without fear of judgment.

On an individual level, being an active ally means offering support in both formal and informal ways. Listening to others’ experiences of discrimination encourages empathy and allows individuals to feel seen and heard. Addressing blatant discrimination can be relatively straightforward but dealing with microaggressions — commonplace behaviours that convey negative attitudes — is much trickier. Overcoming the fear of calling out such behaviours involves asking yourself some critical questions, such as:

  • Will I regret not addressing this?
  • Does my silence imply I am condoning this?
  • What specifically do I want to say, and how should I say it?


Continuous listening and learning, remaining respectful, diplomatic, empathetic, and assertive, and recognising that mistakes may happen, can all help us navigate the challenges of allyship. But the commitment to genuine support matters most.

Maya Angelou’s wisdom offers me some helpful encouragement here:

“Do the best you can until you know better.

Then when you know better, do better.”


Be an Effective Ally: What’s Your Action Plan?

To be an effective ally:

  • Be an active and visible ally: Show your commitment through consistent actions that demonstrate your support for equality.
  • Use your voice: Actively promote equity for all by speaking up against discrimination and bias.
  • Never be a bystander: In the face of harassment, bullying, or negative language, don’t stand idly by. Intervene and support those facing discrimination.
  • Challenge inappropriate behaviour: Be willing to address both blatant discrimination and subtle microaggressions. Your voice can make a difference.
  • Celebrate diversity: Acknowledge and appreciate the uniqueness of your colleagues. Create an environment that values and embraces diversity.


Your Allyship Matters

Being an active ally is not a formal role; it’s a responsibility that can profoundly impact people’s experience of work. By actively participating in the fight against discrimination and bias, you contribute to creating a workplace where everyone can thrive and be their authentic selves. Being an active ally isn’t just another buzzword phrase; it could be the most important role you ever have in shaping a more inclusive and equitable future for everyone.

How will you step up as an ally in your workplace?


Want to know more?

Sarah Harvey is Founding Director of Savvy Conversations Ltd and author of the highly acclaimed book “Savvy Conversations: A practical framework for effective workplace relationships.”


Linked In:

X: @SarahSavvySarah

Instagram: savvysarah





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