We can all be Allies

Q. A team member makes a ‘joke’ about two straight male colleagues going on a spa day together. It has homophobic undertones as they, and others, laugh. You notice your openly gay colleague does not laugh and looks uncomfortable. What do you do?

We are all at different points when it comes to being allies. Some of us are active allies in the workplace, calling out exclusive behaviours, or simply being there to listen. Others wish we could do more but feel we lack the knowledge of ’appropriate language’ or have confidence issues centered on not wishing to offend. Some shy away from allyship completely and don’t know where to start.

An ally is someone who is not personally part of the marginalized community in question but uses their voice and actions to support people in that community. Someone might be part of one or more minority community and an ally for other minority communities they are not a part of. We can all be allies.

The 2-hour session ‘We can all be allies’ aims to provide a space to have comfortable conversations about sometimes uncomfortable situations. The highly interactive, facilitated session is designed to keep participants’ allyship skills fresh and give guidance on day-to-day inclusion scenarios they may encounter in their workplaces – like the one above. We cover situations involving gaslighting, power hierarchies, ’banter’ across a broad range of areas for example everyday ablism, sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia. We provide practical actions to support people in minority communities, ethnicities, genders and religions.

The Q&A format builds participants’ confidence, provide an opportunity to receive coaching on challenging areas and result in further commitments to be inclusive.

We can all be allies covers:

  • What is an ally?
  • Active Allyship vs. Performative Allyship
  • What does an ally actually do?
  • What is the difference between speaking up and speaking for?
  • How to handle microaggressions personally and as an ally
  • We can all be allies ™ Practical scenarios


PEN Partnership are a smart, forward thinking professional services organisation working with global clients on business-critical issues. In order to stay relevant and connected to the needs of their customers and their customers’ customers a diverse outlook is crucial.

In order to foster a diverse outlook there must be a culture of inclusion, underpinned by allyship. In March 2022 Altogether Different worked with PEN Partnership on a programme to encourage practical conversations about active allyship. Key to the success of the programme was providing a safe, non-judgmental space for people to work through practical scenarios, listening to each other’s responses and building empathy along the way.

The result? Leaders fully engaged in their role as allies, team members from minority communities feel listened too and supported – everyone comes away with a new way to be an ally to someone in a minority in the workplace, or a different minority to the one they are already in. We can ALL be ALLies.

“These sessions have helped us navigate difficult conversations with thoughtfulness and, as an organisation, they’ve helped us work together on a very clear common purpose”.

Chris Gibson, CEO, PEN Partnership

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