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May 16, 2018

Are You Still A Tattle-Tale ?


Oh yes, you remember those days.  Whether it was the schoolyard, the backyard or somewhere within your home that was off-limits (in my house, it was a tie between the crawlspace and the roof… don’t even ask why).  Despite your best efforts, one time or another it was you who let out the famous phrase: “I’m telling!”

The crazy thing is that feeling of righteous indignation and satisfaction was never as good as you imagined it would be before telling.  On the other hand, you can likely recount a time when a situation didn’t quite sit right—or was simply wrong– and you wished you had the courage to tell about it.

Amidst the heightened public scrutiny of tattle-tales, this week we’re asking how might we be better allies?  Particularly when we’re confronted with incidents of implicit or explicit bias against others. Here are some takeaways from an informal conversation with Corey Davis of Maven Leadership Collective (be sure to check out their amazing work).

Who Knows Anyways?  
As entrepreneurial leaders, we are often charged with ensuring the spaces we create and occupy are not only inclusive by design but open and safe in practice.  This often means asking in truth: am I an ally or closet adversary? It’s ok not to know if you are an ally or what that even means.    It’s best not to make an assumption about the needs of others.  When in doubt, ask how can I support?  Not only does this simple question appropriately shift the focus back to the individual or group who, in all likelihood was intentionally excluded, but it empowers them as well.

Be it a suspect class, a historically marginalized group, or a combination of the two; inclusion is intersectional and it must be broadly defined.  So you might wonder,  if I am an ally, to whom?  There is no such thing as an ally-by-default. Corey reminds us that ” being friends with, employing, or even having a relationship with someone does not constitute allyship.” Rather, in supporting groups with which one does not self-identify, an ally makes a concerted effort to both empathize and better understand the unique challenges.

Don’t Stop Believing, Hold on To That Feeling . . .
Finally, the journey to becoming an ally is just that– a journey.  It’s an ever-evolving space more than a set of rules with universal application.  As innovators, we constantly push the boundaries of convention.  We’re bold.  We stand confidently in the face of risk.  And, we don’t fear failure.  Those same ingredients create allies.

How can you be an ally this week?


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