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Diversity & Inclusion

Black tech leaders share how allyship builds racial equity at work

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated February 23, 2023
|3 min read

One in four Black workers and one in four Hispanic workers report experiencing discrimination on the job. Glassdoor recently held a webinar titled “Building Equity and Celebrating Success in Your Career,” to discuss how people of color and allies can help combat these issues. The conversation, moderated by Glassdoor’s chief people and diversity officer Danny Guillory, was held in honor of Black History month and included panelists Keith White, Salesforce's chief of safety and security, and Alexis Jeffries, Glassdoor’s director of product marketing, B2B.

Allyship is key to driving real progress. When people have an ally at work, underrepresented groups — including women, Black people, LGBTQIA+, and those with disabilities — are more than 1.5x likely to feel safe. The session offered a few ways allies can help uplift colleagues of color. 

Ask how you can best support

If you’re an ally, you might not be sure how to help. Start simple: just ask. Check in with your colleagues of color on how they want to be supported and work toward building a relationship rooted in trust and mutual respect. One way to offer support is to advocate for someone else’s work or amplify something positive they said or did. (And be sure to give credit!) Keep in mind that what’s comfortable for one person may not sit well with another, so make sure you ask around before taking action on anyone’s behalf. 

“The difference between something bad vs. something good is a mindset,” said Jeffries. “The difference between good and great is work ethic. I look for allies who live both of those things; a certain mindset to ask questions, to learn the things you don’t know.”

Alexis Jeffries, director of product marketing, B2B, Glassdoor

Call out microaggressions and other offensive comments

Change Catalyst found that 92% of people underrepresented identities surveyed feel allies have been valuable throughout their careers. When employees have at least one ally at work, they are nearly twice as likely to feel like they belong and be satisfied with their workplace culture and job. 

Being an ally means recognizing and calling out harmful rhetoric. A separate study of 300 Black participants found that only 29% of those who experienced competency microaggressions actually reported it. The remaining participants kept quiet because of fear of backlash, being associated with negative stereotypes, or being seen as difficult to work with by other employees. Make it a priority to step up and speak up as an ally even when the person you’re defending isn’t around to hear it. 

“A good ally will step in, defend a person, be assertive, and not just watch things happen,” said White. “They step up when a joke is starting or a comment is made. They are not quiet, not laid back, and not neutral, with zero tolerance [for racist behavior].”

Keith White, chief of safety and security, Salesforce

Provide a seat at the table

Elevating BIPOC by sharing your experience or network with more junior colleagues is another way to help build equity. Consider becoming a mentor, and then proactively introduce your mentees to leaders they may not interact with day-to-day. By going that extra step, you are offering sponsorship that could help propel their career. 

“A sponsor is different from a mentor,” said White. “It entails you advocating for me. When my name comes up in a meeting, you endorse me.” 

Moving forward as an ally

Each step an ally takes toward creating more inclusive, equitable spaces makes a difference. However, the tips above are just a start. To build true equity at work, we all need to dig into our assumptions around race (as well as gender and power structure). It’s important to keep learning, researching, and asking questions. Continue the journey by learning how to create safe spaces and celebrate diversity at work

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