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Beginning Your Ally Journey

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the path to allyship.
  • Describe intention vs. impact.

Approach Allyship as a Continuous Path

Remember that becoming an ally isn’t instantaneous. It also isn’t simple. There can be many missteps along the way, and it takes time to understand the issues that impact a community and to find your voice or next action to create change. That’s okay. This is a journey, and as long as we move forward with empathy, good intentions, accountability and forgiveness, we can find our way. 

Parker Harris and Carden Wyckoff, who uses a wheelchair, pose for a photo at Ohana Summit HQ 2018.

Put Empathy at the Center

As you continue through this module, you will notice a resounding theme: empathy. Equality begins with empathy. When we seek to understand before being heard we can greatly impact culture. We can all strive to be good humans to one another by putting ourselves in each other’s shoes. Part of this is practicing mindful listening as you begin to hear more personal stories. This means listening to understand, rather than listening to respond, and taking the time to make eye contact, pause before speaking, and reflect on the information being given. 

Remember Intention vs. Impact

Amy Lazarus, CEO and Founder of Inclusion Ventures, always starts off Equality discussions by reminding everyone of intention vs. impact. In other words, the majority of the time people have positive intent; however, it’s the impact of our actions and words that matters. 

Think about times when someone expressed they felt hurt or disrespected by something that was said. The immediate reaction by the person who said it is usually defensive. This is where we hear “I’m not racist/homophobic/sexist and so on.” Imagine if instead we responded with, “I’m sorry, please teach me what I said/did wrong.” This helps us have brave and honest conversations that we can learn from.

Salesforce employees and Ohana Group members chat at an Equality event.

Prioritize Accountability and Forgiveness

You will see this mentioned in other modules as well: Accountability and forgiveness go hand in hand when we are having difficult and powerful conversations. It’s important that we take responsibility for our impact on others, without getting defensive as much as possible. It’s also critical that we forgive those around us for their own mistakes and missteps as we would like others to do for us. 

In the next unit we’ll learn the four key practices for being a great ally and how to put them into action.  

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