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Be an Ally. Be an Upstander!

Being an upstander or ally in the workplace is not just an act of goodwill; it is an vital part of modern, forward-thinking companies.

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Being a Champion:
Unleashing the Power of Upstanders and Allies in Your Workplace

Our society is obviously becoming more and more intertwined. It makes sense then that our workforce and office environments are a natural reflection of that. With that in mind, it is a must to sustain a truly inclusive workplace.

A key role in sustaining a positive environment in the office is that of an upstander or ally. In fact, people fulfilling this role are pivotal in helping employees to feel respected and valued. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the importance of being an upstander and ally. Through that process, we’ll also explore the best ways to address this integral component in the workplace.

Upstander and Ally: Taking a Closer Look

The Upstander

You can think of an upstander as someone who gets directly involved when a situation turns left. This is someone who actively speaks up or intervenes when they see that discrimination, bullying, or any form of unfair treatment is taking place. For the upstander, it is very difficult for him/her to be a passive bystander. Rather, the upstander dives in, takes a stand to support the victim, address the situation, and promote a more inclusive environment.

The Ally

One way to characterize an ally is to think of them as being a person who actively supports individuals from marginalized and underrepresented groups. In this way, allies work to understand the unique challenges that these individuals face and then step forward to actively advocate for their advancement and inclusion in the office. In this way, they tend to be very effective at using their privilege or position to create a more engaging environment of equality for those around them.

Why It’s So Important to Have Upstanders and Allies?

Enhancing Inclusivity

When it comes to building an environment of inclusivity, upstanders and allies are absolutely instrumental. Their involvement and the examples they set send a clear message to others in the organization that discrimination or exclusion will not be tolerated. In turn, they are able to help other employees feel safe and valued.

Building Team Dynamics

One of the greatest results of having upstanders and allies in the office is that they become drivers in building effective team cohesion. As a direct result of their actions, other employees feel more motivated and supported. They also may be more willing to collaborate. And that leads to an increased level of productivity and innovation.

Holding On to Key Talent

You know the real impact it makes on your company when your most experienced and talented team members walk out the door for whatever reason. With that in mind, one of the biggest positive aspects of having effective upstanders and allies on your staff is the real effect they have on those around them. Employees who feel supported and included are much more likely to stay with a company. In turn, minimizing turnover can save money and it can also preserve vital institutional knowledge and experience.

Enhancing Company Reputation

No one wants to be part of an organization that develops a reputation as being on the wrong side of inclusion. It’s a fact that companies that live up to their commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity are much more likely to enjoy a positive public image. And that dynamic can have a ripple effect—in turn, attracting top talent and loyal customers … leading to long-term success.

Ten Ways Individuals Can Become an Upstander or Ally...

1. Stay in the Know

If you want to be a strong ally, you first should educate yourself about the specific hurdles faced by individuals from underrepresented groups. As part of this, it’s important to learn about different cultures, experiences, and the various forms of unfair treatment they tend to encounter.

2. Be an Active Listener

Open your ears and minds to others. It can be incredibly validating for people to have a safe space to share experiences and concerns. You can support that type of environment by being open, approachable and empathetic … and by encouraging your coworkers to share their stories.

3. Address Injustice Head-on

Are you ready to speak up? As an upstander, don't hesitate to intervene when you witness a situation that is wrong. Use your voice and privilege to support those being mistreated, whether it's addressing inappropriate comments, challenging biased decisions, or stopping bullying cold.

4. Look to Include Diverse Voices

It’s important to encourage a variety of perspectives and ensure everyone feels heard and respected. In addition, be sure to actively seek out and amplify underrepresented voices in meetings, discussions, and projects.

5. Be an Advocate for Inclusivity

One way of achieving this aim is by supporting and advocating for organizational policies that stand strong for inclusivity, such as anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policies, diversity training, and flexible work arrangements to meet unique needs.

6. Work Against Microaggressions

You can take steps to address microaggressions (often unintentional, subtle, derogatory comments or actions that play off of stereotypes or biases). Even though these incidents may seem small in the moment, they can leave a big impact and should not be left unaddressed.

7. Provide Support to Targets

It’s important to be a source of support for someone who has been a victim of discrimination or bullying. Talk to them, lend a listening ear, and help them through the steps they can take to address the issue.

8. Spread the Word

One of the most important things to remember is that you don’t need to be alone in your efforts. Encourage others to become upstanders and allies, as well. The more people who actively take part, the more cohesive the culture of inclusivity will become.

9. Keep Learning

Take part in diversity and inclusion training, as well as seminars and workshops to continually enhance your knowledge of these vital challenges.

10. Be a Champion of Diversity

Do your part in engaging and creating activities or events that champion diversity and the exchange of cultural differences. In the process, you’ll discover a fun and educational way to promote understanding and inclusion.


The Domino Effect

Positive actions have an impact that go way beyond just the individual level. As employees adopt these roles, they create a positive domino effect across the company. In turn, the workplace becomes a place where diversity is celebrated, and individuals from all backgrounds are valued. Plus, this atmosphere of engagement extends outside the office, impacting not only the local community but also society at large.

Take Action

Being an upstander or ally in the workplace is not just an act of goodwill; it is an vital part of modern, forward-thinking companies. Organizations that actively promote upstander and ally culture build an atmosphere that attracts top talent, retains employees, enhances innovation, and cultivates a reputation for social responsibility.

At the end of the day, the power of the upstander and ally is really a transformative force that helps organizations grow and, more importantly, fosters a more inclusive, equitable world. The time is now to consider embracing the roles of upstander and ally in your workplace. As a result, you'll be contributing to a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Need more information or don’t know where to start?
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Now What?

Evaluate the current communication methods used in your organization. What are you doing right? Where can you improve? In the coming weeks, challenge yourself and other leaders to implement at least one transparent communication strategy into your daily interactions.

Need help? Sollah has the training programs that help teach transparent communication and strengthen leadership skills.

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