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What Does Being an Ally Look Like? | Linkage Featured in the Wall Street Journal

July 20, 2020 Jennifer McCollum

I have spoken with many leaders over the past month, and all of them are asking an important question: How can we courageously move beyond the past to create real change at our organizations and in our communities?

On Juneteenth, I had the honor of sitting down with Bev Wright, expert leadership consultant and inclusion advocate, and Eddie Turner, international best-selling author and award-winning coach, for an installment of Linkage’s Critical Leadership Conversations, a free webinar series highlighting the latest in leadership best practices.

The response to this webinar was tremendous, making this the widest-reaching webinar in Linkage history.

Our conversation was grounded in lived experiences and actionable strategies for change. This discussion proved to be an invaluable opportunity for more than 1,000 leaders to reflect on and discuss the troubled history of the past, the shifting reality of the present, and the hope for the future. If you didn’t get a chance to tune into the webinar live, I invite you to access the recording now.

This conversation—about how to be a better ally and how to recognize and challenge the systemic racism that has traditionally benefited white people—is vitally important. And, the way we amplify these insights and recommendations can have a meaningful impact on our organizations and our communities. Every single leader, and every single organization, benefits from this knowledge.

That’s one of the reasons I was eager to speak with Patrick Thomas, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, about the webinar and Linkage’s ongoing work to build and support cultures of inclusion at leading organizations.

His article, which was published in the Wall Street Journal last week, in both the print and digital edition, includes inclusion recommendations and firsthand experiences from experts in this space, including Eddie Turner and Linkage. It was an honor to share these critical insights with the readers of the Wall Street Journal, and I hope you will benefit from reading them as well. As I wrote when posting this to my social media networks, “Those of us with privilege must act. I am learning and practicing how to become a better ally every day.”

A few additional resources and ideas I would like you to consider this week:

Make a commitment to being a better ally.

During the webinar, we asked our viewers to share some of the commitments they are making to actively serve as a better ally. The response was tremendous: Hundreds of replies came flooding through the chat.

There were many common themes—sponsorship and mentorship, focusing on intersectionality, confronting bias and unconscious bias—but what I was most struck by was a shared focus on stepping out of our “comfort zone.” For white leaders especially, understanding how we have benefited from the continued oppression of historically marginalized groups can be uncomfortable—but it is necessary.

I am inspired by the commitments our viewers made, and I compiled some of their commitments, along with key takeaways from the webinar, in a blog post. Read the blog post, and then answer this question for yourself: What commitments will you make to step outside your comfort zone and foster a culture of inclusion at your organization?

Raise up others and build diverse leadership pipelines.

As a leadership development expert, I often focus on each senior leader’s responsibility to amplify diverse voices within our organizations. Executive action, which is the financial, emotional, and time investment executives make to mentorship, sponsorship, and speaking to diversity and inclusion topics, is a leading indicator of an organization’s overall inclusiveness.

Collectively, leaders have a responsibility build the diverse leadership pipelines necessary to meet the needs of today’s diverse workforce. That takes hard, thoughtful, long-term work.

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, and upcoming keynote speaker at this year’s Women in Leadership Institute, says it best: “The real way to grow your power is to give it away.”

Consider now: How are you raising up diverse voices and building diverse teams? Where does progress need to be made in your organization? Do you have a plan to get there? Please let us help, as we continue to learn together.

Linkage’s Creating Cultures of Inclusion Solution is a practical framework to assess, evaluate, and accelerate inclusive leadership qualities in leaders at all levels. Linkage’s Leading with a Mindset of Inclusion Virtual Sessions empowers leaders to create and foster cultures of inclusion and lead effectively across difference.

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