When thinking about work, we usually think about deadlines, vacation days and getting that big promotion, but what we often don’t think about (and should be) is our work environment. A healthy work environment sees everyone respected and treated equally, but for many, equality isn’t the reality we imagine it to be. From bullying in the workplace, to discrimination based on ability, race, gender, age or sexuality and even the gender pay gap, our workplaces can be fraught with system-wide exclusion.
Once you see the ways your workplace can improve, it’s up to you to those of us with the power to know when to stand up, speak out, and make space for our colleagues who may not have the ability. Here are 10 ways to step up as an ally to your co-workers in inequitable working conditions.
Start by being confident at work, and then share that confidence by allowing others around you — particularly those who may be marginalized — a chance to shine. This might mean taking a back seat from colour commentary at meetings or asking a colleague for input when you see they may be struggling to get a word in edge wise.
Act as a sponsor
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Be someone’s champion
With all other forms of allyship, the key here is speaking up — but without hostility. It’s important to ensure that the person your championing doesn’t feel put upon or singled out.
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Advocate, advocate, advocate
And while you may think that your workplace may not be ready, it’s up to allies to lead the charge in creating opportunities for marginalized people, and for marrying our work with our activism. Need inspiration? Have a peek at some of the exciting work Canadian fashion designers did advocating for themselves and others.
Recognize where you might be falling short
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Don’t stop learning
Immersing ourselves in articles and books is a great way to get the bigger picture and offer lessons in how to incorporate activism at work.
Know when to back down
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Be open to listening
And if you’re the offender? Actively listen to the person you’ve hurt, don’t make excuses, and work towards being better towards them by learning, recognizing your position, and leaving your ego at the door.
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Be a confidant
Remember that taking small steps to be a better ally can make a world of difference for you and your colleagues.
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