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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Be authentic 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Be authentic 

Q. How can I be an authentic ally in the workplace? 

A. We’ve already established the importance of building a diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) business. Ensuring you communicate effectively about DEI is the next step—and that starts with authenticity.  

Authentic allyship occurs when your goal is to transfer the benefits of privilege to those who lack it. For example, your business may answer a request for volunteers or funds to assist a local nonprofit working toward racial equity.   

Conversely, performative allyship can occur when you ignore the needs of those less privileged and jump straight into action—such as creating and publicizing an event purely for publicity, or more commonly, posting a hollow tribute on social media.  

Here are three steps to being an authentic ally: 

Listen 

Before you begin any work, take time to hear from under-represented or under-privileged groups. If you’re trying to make your workplace more inclusive for Black people, for example, begin by asking Black colleagues what that looks like to them. Be cautious. Do not depend on those you’re seeking to help for all your education. Your help should not be a burden to those you’re trying to benefit.  

Act first, then talk about it 

Don’t post on social media about your DEI efforts or talk about your inclusive workplace in recruitment ads until you’ve actually accomplished something. For example, if you create a DEI mission statement and host ongoing staff trainings about unconscious bias, you can add your statement to your website.  

Be transparent 

If your business has a long way to go before you can call it diverse, admit that. It’s better to say you’re a work-in-progress than to make false claims. You can be aspirational while being honest.  

Jen Gilbert is a senior copywriter at Moxie (a division of VGM Group) and a leader of VGM Group’s DEI Committee. You can reach her at [email protected]

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