by JANICE ROSS, president of Women in Toys, founder and managing partner at Brand Fresh Management
What does it mean to be a good ally? Why does allyship matter?
Simply put, allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege. But, being an ally is about more than just wanting to “do good.”
COMMITTING TO BEING AN ALLY
Allyship is a commitment to important change that results in leveling the playing field anywhere that inequities show up in our personal and professional lives.
That commitment is easier said than done. We won’t always be perfect at it, but that’s OK. Here’s the important part: Even small acts of allyship compound over time to create big change.
In my role as president of Women in Toys (WiT), I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know such a diverse and talented group of women. I am grateful to lead an organization that is part of creating a community of belonging where everyone feels heard and respected and can show up as their authentic selves.
I’m on my own personal journey to both give and receive allyship. In conversations with members of the WiT community, I’ve discovered so much about allyship and the impact it has on all of us and on our industry. I realized that allyship is gender-neutral, very nuanced, and riddled with complexity.
ALLYSHIP ACROSS THE COMMUNITY
To help unpack the complexity, WiT hosted an Allies in Action Roundtable discussion back in November with industry leaders in which we tackled the importance of allyship in our personal lives, at work, and beyond. These leaders shared their “why’s” — their reasons for taking action as an ally. Some of the answers we received were incredibly inspiring.
One of the roundtable participants, Encantos CEO Steven Wolfe Pereira —ally to the WiT community and honoree of this year’s Wonder Women Triple A Award for Activism, Advocacy and Allyship — shared his “why” that led to him starting his own company.
“As a Dominican growing up in New York, I feel like I’ve been on this journey for more than 25 years now,” Pereira says. “When I was growing up, allyship wasn’t really a term, but I got to a point in my life where I was really tired of hearing people just talk about allyship. Ultimately, that culminated in me founding a company that truly has diversity, equity, and inclusion in its DNA. And everything we do is through that lens. We are on a mission to democratize, diversify, and personalize learning on a global scale.”
Pereira wanted to create big change and he is doing that with his work at Encantos, but what really hits home for me is how his small acts of allyship are so impactful. In particular, his Spotlight Series on LinkedIn demonstrates how allyship can be a daily practice. Pereira uses the reach of his platform — more than 45,000 followers — to shine a light on a diverse group of individuals, amplifying their talent and accomplishments.
Consistency has made Pereira’s allyship so important over the years. Looking back on the definition I mentioned at the start of this piece, “Allyship is an active and consistent effort.” No matter what inspires you to take action, consistency is key. Small, single acts of allyship add up to create the change we’re all eager to see.
HOW CAN YOU PRACTICE YOUR ALLYSHIP?
As I continue my journey, I ask myself, “What are my daily practices and what is my pledge to be a good ally?”
I will continue to advocate for my colleagues with marginalized identities and recommend them for projects, leadership opportunities, and promotions.
I will continue to incorporate inclusive language principles to ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity.
I will continue to encourage active participation in meetings and to foster an open space for participants to feel motivated and comfortable to speak up.
I will continue to monitor my personal network and introduce colleagues from underrepresented groups to influential people that I know.
I will continue to be a safe space for my colleagues to share their experiences and concerns with me.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
This is just part of what I’m doing. I’d love to hear from you and learn what you’re doing to be a consistent ally to those around you. Please drop me a line at email@example.com.
We all have the power to make a difference. Use the power of your privilege to make a difference today.
This article was originally published in the May 2022 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!