Why Allies Matter

 

What's the big deal? Aren’t lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people pretty much accepted nowadays?  Well...

Did you know your LGBT friends and co-workers can still be fired or evicted in 29 states?

Did you know that up to 43% have personally experienced discrimination?

Would you be confident that the world would fully accept your son or daughter if he or she came out?

 

More stuff you should know at LGBT Fast Facts.

 

There are lots of reasons allies are key to creating a more inclusive world:

There are a lot of us.

300 million people speak a lot louder than 9 million.

The same action taken by a straight person vs. an LGBT person has a different impact.

Ellen Degeneres is expected, but Clint Eastwood endorsing marriage equality made a big splash.

People listen harder when they hear things from people they see as similar to them.

Allies were very effective advocates prominently featured in the successful marriage equality campaigns of 2012.

 

But there are also lots of reasons many straight people don’t step up:

Unawareness: Many of us don’t realize that vast legal and social inequalities still exist (or example, only 10% of Americans know their gay friends can still be fired or evicted in most states).
Fear: Others worry that they have no place speaking on behalf of a community they are not a part of, or that their friends and colleagues will assume they are gay.
Paralysis: Even those who want to help rarely know what they can do, because there is no clear “ask” for what allies can and should do to create change.

 

So how do we fix it?

Ally engagement initiatives can be structured to overcome each of these barriers:

Unawareness

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Build awareness  by making the issues relevant to people's everyday experiences in the places they spend most of their time - at work and school

Fear

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Create a community of allies so people don't feel they are alone in speaking up, and start to consider being an ally to be part of their identity

Paralysis

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Pave a path of small, regular actions allies can take to make an impact

 

➜ Check out how allies are using this framework to make an impact at leading business schools and workplaces.