11 actionable steps you can take to practice workplace allyship and create a more inclusive, equitable, and supportive work environment.
Image: Two men standing side by side, leaning over a garden bed.
Imagine a workplace where every employee feels valued, heard, and empowered. This vision becomes a reality when individuals, especially those in positions of privilege, step up and actively support and advocate for marginalised or underrepresented colleagues.
Practising allyship in the workplace is essential for creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees.
Here are some ways you can take to practice allyship in the workplace.
Start by educating yourself about the experiences and challenges faced by marginalised groups, such as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples or people from other culturally and racially marginalised communities, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disability. Take the time to understand the history and context of discrimination and bias. Develop your understanding of inclusive language. This knowledge will serve as the foundation for your allyship efforts, helping you to better understand the perspectives and experiences of these communities.
Examine your own biases and the privilege that may shape your viewpoint. Understand how your background and experiences may have influenced your perspective. Recognise that everyone has biases, and it’s essential to work on addressing them.
Cultivate a space of trust and openness for your colleagues to express their experiences and concerns. Practice listening actively by giving them your full attention and avoid interrupting or dismissing their experiences. By giving your colleagues your undivided attention and empathy, you'll not only learn more but also demonstrate your genuine commitment to understanding their perspectives and standing in solidarity with them.
Don't remain silent when you encounter discrimination, microaggressions, or bias in the workplace. Instead, speak up, address the issue, and use your privilege to advocate for the affected individuals. As an ally, you play a crucial role in actively confronting problematic behaviours or comments. By actively challenging problematic behaviours or comments, you can become a driving force for positive change in your workplace.
Image: A person with disability sits next to their support worker at a table. They are smiling and giving each other a high five.
Use your platform and influence to amplify the voices of marginalised colleagues, encourage them to share their ideas and experiences and give credit where it is due. You can also actively promote diversity in discussions, meetings, and decision-making processes. By taking these steps, you can create an environment where every voice is not only heard but valued.
You can promote inclusion by encouraging and participating in diversity and inclusion initiatives in your workplace. This could involve attending diversity and inclusion training sessions, participating in workshops, and engaging with employee networks. You can also support policies and practices that promote a more inclusive and equitable environment.
Image: An older man sits next to a support worker on a couch. They are both looking at a tablet.
Understand that allyship is a learning process. It’s okay to make mistakes or say the wrong thing sometimes. When you do, acknowledge your mistake, apologise, and use it as an opportunity for personal growth. By taking accountability, you become a more effective ally.
Allyship is not a one-time action but an ongoing commitment. Consistently stand up for what is right and work to make long-term, sustainable changes in your workplace culture. By remaining consistent in your support and advocacy, you can help build a workplace where inclusion and equity become ingrained in its core values.
Image: Three women sitting at a table in an office, engaging in conversation.
Support career advancement
Advocate for the career advancement of marginalised colleagues by recommending them for opportunities, mentoring them, and supporting their professional growth. You can also help them access resources and networks and advocate for recognition of their contributions. This can lead to increased visibility, opportunities for advancement, and a greater sense of belonging for your colleagues.
Practising allyship can be emotionally taxing, especially when you confront difficult conversations or situations. Taking care of your own mental and emotional well-being is essential to continue being an effective ally. It allows you to recharge, gain perspective, and approach allyship with renewed energy and resilience.
Image: A woman wearing a yellow shirt with brown hair sits on a couch, holding a tablet.
Regularly check in with your marginalised colleagues and ask for feedback on your allyship efforts. Actively listen to their insights and be open to their suggestions for improvement. This collaborative approach not only demonstrates your genuine commitment to allyship but also enables you to make more informed, impactful contributions.
Image: A man and a woman sit opposite each other outdoors, drinking coffee and talking around a small table.
Remember that allyship is not about seeking recognition; it’s about making a positive impact and supporting your colleagues in a meaningful way. By consistently practising allyship, you contribute to a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
For further education, we suggest visiting:
At Life Without Barriers, we celebrate diversity, and we practice inclusion. We want our employees to be accepted and welcomed for the difference and diversity they bring. This means providing a safe and supportive workplace for everyone, inclusive of culture, ethnicity, faith, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, intersex status, and relationship status. You can learn more about our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace here.
How to be a better ally to transgender youth
Trans Day of Remembrance honours the memory of the trans lives lost.
Wear It Purple Day 2023: 'Write Your Story'
LGBTQIA+ at Life Without Barriers.