TransPerfect promotes diversity throughout its entire organization. Through the formation of STRIVE—TransPerfect’s affinity group for people of color—the conversation about allyship and creating space for empowerment and meaningful dialogue is commonplace.
What Is Allyship in the Workplace?
Chikere Igbokwe has a great concise definition of allyship: “…someone who uses their power and privilege to advocate for others. There are many conversations around the concept of allyship related to diversity and inclusion in the US either systemically, professionally, or personally.”
By examining allyship in the workplace, specifically, an individual will have a good jumping-off point on effective allyship for their BIPOC peers.
We will explore how companies can contribute to allyship in the workplace and beyond through identification, education, and action.
Identify As an Ally
Step one seems deceptively easy; call yourself an ally!
As an ally, recognizing and owning your privilege is a critically conscious step. Allies are not members of marginalized groups
In the workplace, allies support Black, Brown, and other marginalized employees, colleagues, and friends by understanding what they go through. The hardest part for some individuals in identifying as an ally can be acknowledging and owning their privilege. However, by stepping over that hurdle, allies allow for grace and growth within their allyship journey.
Owning one’s privilege and using the power of your non-marginalized voice allows for BIPOC voices to be amplified in spaces where there is no or little representation and is a powerful form of allyship within the workplace.
By creating the space for allies to use their voices, power, and privilege, STRIVE brings marginalized and non-marginalized employees together to work toward inclusion and celebrate diversity.
However, identification and ownership are just the beginning. One cannot be a useful ally without education and then action.
Education creates a solid foundation for allyship. Rather than deferring to colleagues and friends of color for answers, put on a research hat and gather as much information as possible that is relevant to the experiences that BIPOC have in different spaces. Acknowledge and review existing systems and how they are designed with BIPOC at a disadvantage, while also understanding the advantages that non-BIPOC are born with. This is not to suggest that there is no space to ask questions. There is always a space for questions.
However, entering conversations with mindful questions produces helpful answers. Mindful questions have their origins in a place of learning and a genuine desire to understand. They are the difference between investing in necessary conversation versus creating new barriers of frustration and misunderstanding.
In order to help allies on this journey, STRIVE provides resources (through a platform called StriveShares) to its members designed to promote education about allyship and the history around experiences and injustices of BIPOC in the US.
As an ally, education is key and helps individuals avoid drawing on their own experiences but instead actively empathize with experiences that they don’t share. Part of education is knowing if your peers and the community you are hoping to be an ally to sees you as such. This means that you are not the one to determine your status as an ally of an underrepresented group. In this stage, all you can do is continue to educate yourself as much as possible and ask for acceptance by your peers as an ally.
Once acknowledged and educated, then action can begin.
The third and final step is to act, which is where you find an opportunity to be an effective ally in the workplace. There are many ways to do this.
Broadly recognized and non-performative ways to take action include:
- Speaking out on injustices
- Educating colleagues, friends, and family about being an ally
- Acknowledging privilege
- Being actively anti-racist
On a more conversational note, as an amplifier of marginalized voices, you can join employee resource groups to learn about how to support your colleagues by recognizing and amplifying their concerns.
There are several other roles that you can take to be an active ally. As a champion or sponsor, you can call on your BIPOC colleagues to share ideas in spaces where they wouldn’t commonly be heard.
For example, if a question or opportunity has been presented, you choose a BIPOC peer to answer or take the opportunity instead.
There is also the role of the upstander (rather than a bystander). This person steps out of their comfort zone and calls out injustices such as harassment, inappropriate jokes, or feeding stereotypes. However you decide to act, do it with intention and authenticity. Remember, an ally is to lend a hand up, not a handout.
These are not the only steps you can take to be an ally, but this gives you a place to start as you navigate your journey.
The best place to start is somewhere. Understand that you will make mistakes, but humility and understanding will take you in the right direction. The burden is heavy, but your BIPOC peers are excited to have you in their corner, using your voice, power, and privilege to advocate for change in the workplace.
TransPerfect’s core value of diversity is a way for the company to highlight the importance of diversity throughout the organization.
STRIVE is the company’s affinity group that focuses on empowering employees of color and welcomes allies into the space. Given STRIVE’s mission to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace, it makes sense that they would foster a safe space and conversations around allyship.
One of the most recent initiatives is the StriveUp mentorship program, which includes involvement from many in leadership positions around the company. The company recognizes the need for allies and STRIVE has put this into action by opening the conversation and creating real opportunities for change.
Learn more about TransPerfect's corporate citizenship here.