Allyship: What it means and how to get involved
The phrase “I’m an ally” has become increasingly popular; however, it is not an identity but rather an action. At no point should someone proclaim themselves an ally. Instead, allyship is defined by the repeated actions taken by a person with privilege against an oppressive system. As various groups continue to push for equality, it is crucial to understand what it means to stand up for marginalized communities.
What is allyship?
Allyship is “an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluation, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group.” It’s an opportunity for personal growth and community development, as everyone has the capacity to be an ally. Allyship is not limited to the LGBTQ+ community, but also includes identity categories such as women, people with disabilities, black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC). Therefore, you have the opportunity to be an ally to any of the aforementioned groups, especially in places where part of your identity puts you in a position of privilege relative to a particular group.
How can I be an ally?
There are countless, reputable sources of information on the internet to guide you in your journey to being a better ally, and there are many ways to begin your journey. As a simple overview, here are some of the key categories:
- Identify and confront your own bias, prejudice, and privilege
- Research to better understand experiences different from your own
- Recognize inequalities and microaggressions in daily life and their impacts
- Listen to marginalized communities and advocate for systemic changes they put forward
Inclusion is a Leidos value and our employee resource groups (ERGs) play a significant role in bringing this value to life. Our nine ERGs have a combined total of more than 3,000 members in a wide span of communities, such as:
- African American Leidos Network (AALN)
- Allies and Action for Accessibility and Abilities (A4)
- Asian-Pacific Islander Network (APIN)
- Collaborative Outreach with Remote and Embedded Employees (CORE)
- Hispano-Latinx Leidos Asociación (HoLA)
- Military Alliance Group (MAG)
- Women’s Network (WN)
- Young Professionals Network (YPN)
These ERGs are open to all employees, encouraging membership from individuals outside of the demographics they represent. A first step in allyship is recognizing one’s own lack of understanding on minority issues with the desire to learn more. Allyship is always focused on the marginalized group and not the individual taking action, but as our Pride ERG notes there are benefits to being an ally, including1:
- You are improving the system for others, as well as yourself.
- You open yourself up to the possibility of close relationships with others.
- You become less locked into stereotypes.
- You have opportunities to learn from, teach, and have an impact on a population with whom you might not otherwise interact.
- You can make a profound difference in the lives of others.
This Pride Month, we implore you to reflect on allyship—what it means to you and how you can be one. It’s a bigger movement than just Pride, but a year-round commitment and responsibility to making use of privilege to challenge oppression of all types.
1Source: Leidos Pride Ally Guide (internal)