Active Allyship – a discussion on actual actions

Published: 9 Nov 2021

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Daniel Clarke, Senior Business Development Manager and co-chair of the APAC D&I advisory group at Kennedys, opened the discussion by welcoming Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and former CEO of Save the Children International, as well as Thandi Dyani, Strategic Partnerships Lead at Girls Are Awesome and former CEO of Impact Hub Johannesburg.

The speakers were fully engaged entering into the event, discussing how the theme of the Dive In Festival, active allyship, can be both personal and systemic, making it quite complex. They reflected on how and it is all about empathy; being able to see and experience without judgment. They looked at how peers should be fostering more inclusion and try to understand those who are different from themselves by using their privilege to actively open doors for others, providing opportunities that otherwise would not be there.

Attendees were encouraged to be a bias-disrupter and a generation-bridge-builder, like Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Thandi Dyani, by investigating their own biases to be able to bridge generation gaps and change the way qualifications are defined in companies and in workplaces. Attendees were asked to prioritise equity, closely followed by equality to minimise the hardship minorities face when faced with senior teams that lack true representation.

The speakers went on to highlight that allyship also means being visible and showing others that it is possible to get where they want to go which can minimise self-doubt and imposter syndrome. They discussed that, as individuals, we need to change the way we see ourselves and feel empowered to be comfortable in making our own decisions and actively give agency to people who would never imagine having that agency.

The discussion concluded that everything comes down to unlearning old thought patterns, bringing unconscious bias to the surface and taking the responsibility to change our own narratives in order to change the narratives of others.

The call to action was: stop asking if bias exist, instead ask what biases are manifested in you.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my biases?
  • How can I be a good ally?
  • How can I contribute?
  • How can I be a better listener so I can understand others better?
  • What is my position of privilege and how can I use it as an ally?