Becoming an ally to women and communities of color in the workplace isn’t easy, but it’s fulfilling work. There is so much to learn about, and you want to make sure that you aren’t putting the onus on underrepresented colleagues to teach you. Today, we wanted to walk through a few interesting books, movies, and podcasts you can turn to time and again. So let’s talk through what it means to be an ally along with 20+ resources to help you on your journey.
What Does It Mean to Become an Ally in the Workplace?
First, let’s walk through what it means to become an ally to women and colleagues of color in the workplace.
One of the most helpful definitions of ally comes from Merriam-Webster: “one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.”
It can be hard to give an exact definition to the word ‘ally’ because they change every day. Sometimes allies need to be more vocal; sometimes quiet support is appreciated. Either way, underrepresented groups at your company can find value in having great allies at work.
20+ Resources to Help You Become a Better Ally
So, where do you start if you want to become a better ally? You can start by educating yourself with books, movies, and podcasts. Then, once you’ve done some work, you might want to reach out and have conversations with staff members at your organization.
Let’s begin walking through some helpful resources:
Books to Help You Become a Better Ally
First, let’s uncover some interesting books that you can lean on to become a better ally to people of color. There are so many books that can help you untangle the interesting relationships we have with race in the United States (and the world.) Here are a few books to help you get started on your journey:
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
- A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
- So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Movies/Documentaries That Can Help Your Team Support Each Other
Next, let’s walk through a few movies and documentaries to help you grapple with these issues further. If you are a visual learner, these resources are a great place to start.
- Just Mercy
- Time: The Kalief Browder Story
- Hidden Figures
- The Hate U Give (also a great book!)
- On The Basis Of Sex
- When They See Us
- Eyes On The Prize
- If Beale Street Could Talk
Podcasts You Can Listen to if You Want to Hear More Stories
Next, let’s go through a few podcasts. Podcasts are great because they act as frequently updated resources you can continue to listen in on. In addition, these podcasts often feature conversations with stellar thought leaders in the diversity and inclusion space. Listen to a few episodes with thought leaders you love or topics that interest you. Before you know it, you’ll be able to have great conversations as an ally.
- Code Switch
- Women at Work
- The Diversity Gap
- All Inclusive
- Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox
- Inclusion Catalyst
- The Will To Change: Uncovering True Stories of Diversity & Inclusion
Discussions With Coworkers Can Open Your Heart
The last resource we’ll briefly mention is your coworkers. It’s important that you limit using your coworkers as a resource to protect their mental and emotional energy. Allies should get information from a variety of sources. If you are ready to have a more in-depth conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend at work.
During those conversations, listen deeply. Ask great questions and let your teammate know that you value their time and energy. It’s not easy sharing details about your experience with sexism, racism, or any -ism. Use this time with your colleagues wisely.
How Can You Act On These Ally-Building Resources?
So, now that you have all of these resources, how do you use them? Let’s walk through a few ideas to get you started.
Listen to Your Friends, Colleagues, and Experts (Really!)
First, you want to spend time listening to the people you are trying to learn from. When you hear things that contradict your reality, you might tend to interject or spend time crafting your rebuttal instead of listening deeply. This style of listening can be damaging because it puts both people on the defensive.
Instead, try getting out of your head. Listen with intent and absorb the information you are given. Summarize what you are getting from the person, and then act based on the correct summary. Listening isn’t always easy, but we have to respond based on a full set of facts.
Bring These Conversations up With Employees Who Look Like You
It can be challenging for employees to learn about diversity and inclusion from people who don’t look like them. If you want to be an ally, try starting these conversations with colleagues who share your same demographic makeup. This is especially important for allies who belong to well-represented groups.
Mentor Team Members Who Need It
Mentorship at work is essential. In fact, mentoring can be a huge positive for women and people of color. Don’t assume underrepresented groups will jump at the chance to get mentored by you, but if the situation arises, welcome it.
Host a Watch/Read/Listen-Along
Now that you have all of these resources, put some energy into hosting events with colleagues. You can easily host a watch/read/listen-along with your coworkers. Becoming an ally in the workplace is all about finding room for important conversations. Sometimes the easiest way to do that is by creating conversations through a book club or movie discussion.
Congratulations, you are on your way to being an amazing ally at work. Hopefully, today’s article gave you some food for thought as you consider what to learn about next.
One way to be a better workplace ally is to join an established employee resource group. If your organization needs help creating ERGs, start with a platform like Workrowd that helps you create employee communities. Do you want to know if we’re right for your organization? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.