Building a diverse and inclusive (D&I) culture at work might feel like a struggle. It involves changing mindsets and attitudes, which takes time, patience, and creative strategies. But if you’re looking for a push in the direction of true D&I, allyship training can help you tremendously.

Allyship training is more than simply adding a few lines to your company’s culture handbook. It’s a concrete way of equipping employees with the knowledge, skills, tools, resources, and confidence to end prejudice and unconscious bias in the workplace.

What is an ally?

An ally feels an urge to make their work environment inclusive. And they don’t just deeply identify with D&I values and those most likely to be marginalized. An ally takes action on those feelings.

They support those who feel disconnected or ignored because of their backgrounds, beliefs, or identities. And that support ends up boosting the motivation and performance of marginalized employees.

Allies don’t just step in when someone asks them to help. They also educate coworkers on D&I topics when having informal conversations and performing tasks in areas such as:

  • Sourcing and recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Compensation analysis
  • Performance review
  • Feedback
  • Career growth

All in all, the actions of an ally contribute to eliminating prejudice and unconscious bias from the company. And everyone wins—the business’ bottom line included!

Note: Being an ally means being proactive and intentional about improving an organization’s D&I. But it must be a voluntary role, and that’s when training comes into play.

Skills and behaviors of allies

Don’t know how to spot an ally? Here’s the evidence:

Active listening

Allies listen patiently without judging or picking sides. They also ask questions because they’re interested in fully understanding incidents, assisting the best way they can, and becoming better allies.


An ally  does their best to put themselves in the shoes of those employees even if they have never experienced the same struggle or ever will while being cognizant that they can never fully understand someone’s else’s unique experiences.

And this is how allies help someone navigate a D&I issue:

  1. First, the ally shows interest and thanks the employee for opening up.
  2. Then, the ally acknowledges the other’s pain and hurt as valid and appreciates their value as both an individual and an employee.
  3. Finally, the ally demonstrates support and, of course, takes action.


Allies don’t just sit still! They say and do what’s right even if they fear the reaction of microaggressors or oppressors.


A privileged group is a group of people who aren’t usually the target of prejudice or unconscious bias. And an ally is aware of their privilege and uses it to speak up and take action.

Emotional intelligence

Allies are prudent and don’t act impulsively. They take the time to analyze the situation before doing anything about it.

And if they harm others unintentionally, allies:

  • Are humble and don’t try to justify the action
  • Apologize
  • Undo the action if possible
  • Ask for tips on how to prevent the same from happening again, and follow those tips
  • Don’t let their mistakes keep them from being allies or becoming better allies

What is allyship training?

Raising awareness of unconscious bias is not enough, but it’s a starting point. The next step is allyship training.

Allyship training prepares workforces to become diverse and inclusive for real. This includes teaching them to:

  • Support coworkers and partners who belong to underrepresented groups
  • Collaborate with each other despite their differences
  • Advocate for teammates who might feel isolated or disrespected due to their differences

The types of training range from instructor-led sessions or eLearning courses to coaching programs. They can even be interactive training solutions—such as roleplaying—or video-based ones—such as a series of webinars. But regardless of the solution, it’ll focus on growing empathy among staff and teaching them how to address bias effectively.

The benefits of allyship training

Effective allyship training elevates your D&I training program to the next level. It ignites and fuels the allies’ eagerness to make your company fair, unbiased, and equal. And it also enables them to put your D&I program into action.

With allyship training, all the members of your workforce will feel like:

  • They belong in the team, department, and company
  • Their peers, supervisors, and executives hear their voice
  • The value of their opinion doesn’t depend on their background, beliefs, or identity

And over time, you’ll notice an increase in:

  • Collaboration
  • Employee engagement
  • Productivity
  • Profitability
  • Innovation

You stimulate innovation by combining different backgrounds, beliefs, and identities into diverse and inclusive teams. Those teams will address problems from varied perspectives, which results in more comprehensive solutions.

All in all, allyship training is a way of bringing people together at work. And that’s an impact that lasts. It transforms your workplace into a desirable environment to work in and, ultimately, increases your business’ bottom line.

And it does so not only locally but also when you expand your workforce into foreign locations. Allyship training is vital for building global teams and businesses.

Examples of allyship

Here are a few situations in which allies can intervene and advocate for D&I:

Unconscious bias

Sometimes—and most of those times unconsciously—executives select employees of a particular race or gender for promotions or special projects because of a feeling of similarity between themselves and that employee. In this scenario, an ally might be a C-suite executive who suggests a team member from a different race or ethnicity who has not had a similar opportunity.

Pronoun misuse

Employees from underrepresented identity groups might ask allies for help to prevent the frequent misuse of pronouns. And allies can promptly offer to point out the correct pronouns to those who consistently use the wrong ones. This is a way of fighting microaggressions or oppression in the workplace.

Mental health

Members of marginalized groups might experience severe and disturbing events that would not occur in inclusive environments. Whether these events take place at work or outside of it, they can take a toll on the mental health of staff members who belong to those groups.

But allies can stay ahead and proactively seek to understand how those events might affect their coworkers and be ready to jump in if one of their coworkers asks for assistance.

Diverse and inclusive decision-making

Some meetings to make critical decisions about a company’s products might not have a diverse participant list. In such a situation, allies can ask that employees from other backgrounds, beliefs, and identities join the meeting.

How to develop an effective allyship training program

Despite 65% of the participants in a Harvard Business Review survey stating that D&I is highly strategic to a company, the reality tells a different story. Nearly 70% of employees reported their organizations could do a much better job at being diverse, equal, and inclusive.

But here’s the thing: You can be an exception! These are the key steps to developing an effective allyship training program:

1. Assess your biases

Do you belong to a privileged group? Well, if you do, be conscious of that fact and commit to deepening your knowledge of unconscious bias. Because there’s no way you can design an effective allyship training program without fully understanding your own biases:

  • Research unconscious bias related to your privileged group.
  • Rely on training resources to study the manifestations of unconscious bias.
  • Identify situations in which you acted as a microaggressor or oppressor.
  • Figure out how to become an ally yourself.

And only then can you start thinking about developing your allyship training program.

2. Use appropriate training technology

Give your learners practical resources they can go back to time and time again for guidance on how to take action. Here are just a few of those:

  • Videos with examples of allies taking action in real or animated settings
  • Virtual reality apps for learners to practice being alliesBoth of these technologies will make allies feel more empowered and confident to end prejudice and unconscious bias at your company.

3. Reinforce the program continuously

Your job isn’t done once you roll out an allyship training program. In fact, just like D&I, allyship is an ongoing effort. And here are a few ideas of what you can do to keep it going at your company:

  • Organize workshops—monthly or quarterly for allies to discuss emergent D&I matters, refresh D&I values, and talk about recent events that affected underrepresented groups  inside or outside your organization
  • Hold meetups—monthly or quarterly with allies and members of marginalized groups to share experiences and brainstorm solutions to build inclusive work environments
  • Send out a D&I newsletter—to the whole company either weekly or monthly
  • Create a D&I blog—and every week, invite an ally or member of an underrepresented group to write an article
  • Create a D&I podcast—and interview a member of an underrepresented group once a month

4. Start a community of practice

Because one ally could never carry the weight of an entire allyship program on their shoulders, they must join forces. And one way to support each other is to create a collaborative group of allies.

Whether they chat in person or virtually on a Slack channel, for instance, allies in those groups:

  • Discuss fictional scenarios in which they can intervene and how to do that
  • Ask for advice on what actions to take in real situations
  • Run plans through other allies before putting them into practice

If necessary, allies in collaborative groups can schedule regular meetings. And in those meetings, one of the allies acts as a facilitator, and everyone works together to come up with solutions.

5. Install an emergency desk

Similar to a helpdesk, a D&I emergency desk is a website on which members of underrepresented groups can report microaggressions or oppressive behavior.

It’s crucial to keep the reports absolutely confidential to prevent reporters from retaliation. And that’s the only way of keeping the desk an alive, useful, and safe tool that everyone can count on.

You must also define a procedure to handle reports and hold microaggressors and oppressors accountable for their actions. Otherwise, what would be the point of having an emergency desk?

For instance, allies can rotate at the desk, pick up reports, discuss them with other allies, and involve HR when necessary.

What comes next?

D&I is trending on social media right now, but it should be more than that. Allies can’t be performers with a craving for showing off or improving their social reputation! They must take on the role because of their desire to transform organizations worldwide and bring people together.

Allies take action for those from underrepresented backgrounds, beliefs, or identities. They use their privilege to help underprivileged employees feel significant and welcome at work.

Also, allies lead the way by setting an example. And because allyship is contagious and comes with a ripple effect, over time, others become allies, too, and that’s when change happens.

Allyship is a skill, which means it requires training. Contact us to develop a custom allyship training program for your company!