The month of June is one in which we celebrate diversity in its many forms throughout the United States. June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, as well as the month where we celebrate the freeing of enslaved African Americans via the Emancipation Proclamation on Juneteenth.
Whether or not you identify as a member of either group, there are specific ways that you can be supportive of your traditionally disenfranchised colleagues both in and outside of the office. Read on for some easy, actionable tips for supporting others in the workplace during June and throughout the rest of the year.
1. Educate yourself
The first step in good allyship is to learn (or in some cases, unlearn) about the issues. Read books on the history of systemic inequality, have open conversations with people who have different backgrounds and experiences, and make an active effort to diversify your networks. Be sure to approach conversations with curiosity, but be careful to avoid dissecting the lived experiences of others or refuting their perceptions of their experiences. Increasing your knowledge is an important place to start in your allyship.
2. Resist assuming what others need
What one person needs (or wants) in terms of allyship may be different from another colleague. It can (understandably) be confusing at times to determine what the best actions are for you to take as an ally. The best way to decide how to move forward? Ask.
Remember that your colleagues have agency all their own, and while they may appreciate you speaking up or otherwise acting on their behalf, there may be better ways to support them. If you are unsure about how best to be an ally, always err on the side of caution and simply ask the person how you can be supportive of them.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of being the “second courageous” – Adapted from BetterAllies.com
We’ve all been there — in a meeting or in the break room, where someone uses offensive terminology or makes an inappropriate joke. One courageous soul intervenes to push back against this behavior, and everyone else shifts awkwardly as they wait for the exchange to be over.
Many times, we have a habit of employing delayed camaraderie — reaching out afterward to the brave soul and letting them know that you appreciate them for speaking up. But what if instead, you do that in the moment? There is just as much power in being the second courageous person to say, “Hey — not cool” when someone makes an offensive remark in your workplace. Doing so not only shows those around you that you are an ally, but it also lets the offending person know that their behavior is deemed unacceptable by more than just one person, encouraging them to rethink their own attitudes in the process.
Here at Ohio State, we adhere to the university-wide Shared Values Initiative. This initiative reminds us of the values that we share as a university community, and our shared commitment to those values. As an alumnus (or friend) of the university, these values extend to you as well. We encourage you to explore the university’s Shared Values Initiative to understand this effort within the Ohio State community, and consider ways that you can utilize this language and effort in your own endeavors to be better ally to those around you.