Building Allyship and
A Training Module
• Online discussions tend towards silence so invite people to speak or set a
• Reiterate that there aren't any trick questions. Ask participants to focus on
how to respond to incidents as an ally, not as the marginalized person
("you" = "theoretical ally”, using your privilege productively!).
• Everyone can be an ally - the idea to reframe your understanding of power
dynamics towards empathy and recognizing when you can step in to ‘do
• Introduce yourself and your privilege. If you have a privilege that helps
people listen to you in the workshop (a specialized skill, a degree from a
respected school, you are male, white, etc.), mention that privilege, and
talk about how you are personally using it to end inequality by teaching this
• Set the terms of the workshop:
• If you make a mistake, apologize, correct yourself, and move on
• The facilitator is the gatekeeper; they have permission to interrupt
those who speak too much or encourage those who are participating
• If you can’t be kind, be quiet.
• Remember the 4 golden rules of anti-racism training:
• Always start from personal experience
• Know your participants
• Be prepared to address common challenges
• Follow up and offer more opportunities to learn
Defining allyship & privilege
Identifying our own privilege
Crafting allyship responses & basic tools
Defining unconscious bias
Common types of bias in the workplace
Tools to combat bias
Defining the terms
Ally - a member of a social group that enjoys some privilege that is working to challenge and
confront bias and inequities.
Ally is a verb! Not an identity. You can be an ally by acting like an ally.
Defining the terms
Privilege - an unearned advantage given by society to some people but not all.
Example I: When a man walks into a room people assume he’s a manager or an expert, and are more likely to pay him
attention, while women are more likely to be mistaken for junior staff and have to work much harder to establish
themselves as an authority. So, privilege, in this case being male, which is un-earned (he was born this way) allows a
man to experience the world without having to think about how to establish his authority.
Example II: When people say, ‘I don’t see color’ it comes from their privilege as a white person since they aren’t judged
based on the color of their skin and therefore, can afford to ignore it.
What is my privilege?
Privilege is often
invisible to people who
Identifying your power
and privilege helps you
act as an ally more
Source of privilege Source of relative power Position of marginalization
Part of ethnic majority (in the
US - white/Christian)
Educated (ivy league)
Part of a minority ethnicity or
Male Wealthy (compared to peers) Person of color
Straight In a management position / C-
Having a visible or invisible
Cis-gender (not trans) Recognized as an expert Female
Able bodied Lives in a big-city Queer / not-hetero
A legal resident / citizen Owns a car Trans
Not a parent / care-giver Homeowner Immigrant without/with
temporary legal status
Add your own: Add your own: Add your own:
For downloadable version of the worksheet:
• Do you have more or less power
than you thought?
• Do you have more or less privilege
than you thought?
• Are there sources that put you in
a marginalized position compare
to others that you hadn’t
• Any surprises or things you hadn't
thought about before?
Second exercise: Scenarios
Facilitator tip: If time permits you can provide a scenario and let participants come up with their own allyship response.
At a meeting, a manager says, "It's great to
hire more Black people, but let's not lower
Allyship response: “Actually, the problem is
that Black people have to pass a higher bar,
and we need to fix that so that more Black
people make the cut and get judged fairly at
A colleague makes a disparaging remark
about trans people. When you call them out,
they tell you that it’s just part of the culture
they grew up in, and you shouldn't try to
impose your culture on them.
Allyship response: “Being a tolerant society
means we must be intolerant of one thing -
intolerance itself. I encourage you to practice
the best parts of your culture. Either way, our
company culture takes precedence, and in
this company, we practice tolerance towards
In social spaces at work and chat channels,
you notice men do more of the talking than
Allyship response: If you’re a man or in a
senior position in the company, you can
express interest and encourage follow-up
when women contribute. You can say things
like: "That's interesting!" "Tell me more."
"Thank you for bringing up that important
A man on your team uses the phrase ‘girls’ when
describing women who work as professional engineers.
When you interrupt him and say, “you mean ‘women’?”
he chuckles and admits that that’s what he meant. But
afterwards he tells you he feels uncomfortable speaking
up when you’re around because he’s concerned he’ll be
corrected and shamed.
Allyship response: “I know it’s embarrassing and
unpleasant when people point out that the language
you're using is reinforcing sexism. But can you imagine
how much more difficult it is to be the person on the
receiving end of sexist language? I wouldn’t like to be
called ‘boy’ even though I’m a man and I know no one
is questioning my competence because of my race or
gender. I understand your feelings might be hurt.
However, our company culture encourages everyone,
especially men, to be supportive of women.”
Fill in your own allyship
1) A black employee points out to the CEO of the
company that there are almost no people of color
working at the company. The CEO responds by
saying ‘you should refer your friends.’
2) A Latinx colleague just finished a presentation
to the team when a senior member congratulates
them, and says they were particularly impressed
with their English-speaking skills.
3) In a meeting, a colleague asks the only gay
employee in the company to organize a Pride
Month event for everyone, saying they would
know best what to do.
Basic Allyship tools
Reframe the conversation
Speak about your values
State boundaries and enforce them
Amplify/reinforce positive behaviors
Set an example
Shift from certainly to curiosity
Change your mind and tell others about it
Defining the terms
What is bias? Unconscious biases are the automatic, mental shortcuts used to process information
and make decisions quickly. At any given moment individuals are flooded with millions of bits of
information but can only consciously process about 40 at any given time. So, the mind sets up
mental shortcuts to help us process information.
How do biases serve us? These shortcuts can be useful when making decisions with limited
information, focus, or time, but can sometimes lead individuals astray and have unintended
consequences in the workplace.
Defining the terms
What’s the harm? Unconscious bias can prevent individuals from making the most objective
decisions. They can cause people to overlook great ideas, undermine individual potential, and
create a less than ideal work experience for their colleagues. By understanding unconscious bias
and overcoming it at critical moments, individuals can make better decisions - from finding the best
talent (no matter what the background) to acknowledging a great idea (no matter who it came
from) - and build a workforce and workplace that supports and encourages diverse perspectives and
Bias is multi-dimensional,
much like our own
Fill out your own
circle of identities.
Focus on those who
sources of privilege,
based on the first
For downloadable version of this worksheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TsJWRHu-
1) Are there any parts of your identity
circle you’ve never considered before
today or taken for granted?
2) How have these or other parts of your
identity helped or held you back in your
3) Have you ever been surprised by
realizing you’ve experienced bias? How
did it feel and what actions did you take,
Common Types of Bias in the Workplace
Overlapping / reinforcing forms of bias
When it is assumed that some people are much better at certain tasks than others, based
on stereotypes. Usually skews towards assuming men are more competent than women.
Example: Research* shows that women are most often hired based on experience, while
men are hired based on potential.
* Frontiers in Psychology, Overlooked Leadership Potential: The Preference for Leadership Potential in Job Candidates Who Are
Men vs. Women. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00755/full
Where people try to make sense of or judge a person’s behavior based on prior observations,
interactions or stereotypes.
Example: Men are stereotypically viewed as more competent and are therefore more likely to
have good accomplishments attributed to their innate nature. Women are more likely to have
their successes attributed to external factors such as luck, teamwork etc. This generally makes it
harder for women, and minorities, to get promoted at work or have their contributions
acknowledged and rewarded. Another example – a white man who came from a low-income
background would attribute his financial success to his abilities, rather than unfair bias.
Also known as similarity bias, is the tendency for people to connect with others who share
similar interests, experiences and backgrounds.
Example: When companies hire for ‘culture fit,’ they are likely falling prey to affinity bias.
When hiring teams meet someone they like and who they know will get-along with the
team, it’s more often because that person shares similar interests, experiences and
backgrounds, which does not help your team grow and diversify!
The inclination to draw conclusions about a situation or person based on your personal desires,
beliefs and prejudices rather than on unbiased merit.
Example: In hiring, confirmation bias often plays a detrimental role at the very beginning of the
process when someone first reviews a resume and form an initial opinion of the candidate
based on inconsequential attributes like their name, where they’re from, where they went to
school etc. This opinion can follow through to the interview process and consequently steer
questions to confirm the initial opinion of the candidate.
Overlapping / reinforcing bias
Bias has a multidimensional aspect, much like our own identities. A person can experience
bias as both a woman and young, or any other combination of factors such as race, sexual
orientation, a disability etc.
Example: Women make up 1 in 5 C-Suite executives in corporate America, but women of
color make up only 1 in 25 C-Suite execs* which means they’re facing double
* Mckinsey, State of Women in the Workplace 2019. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/women-in-the-workplace-2019#
Highlight all the types of bias you
A white-male candidate is invited to interview for
a role after a referral from an employee. The role
hasn’t been published yet and there’s no job
description, but the hiring manager decides to
interview based on the resume, since he notices
that he and the candidate went to the same
graduate school. During the interview, the hiring
manager has a free-form conversation with the
candidate, where he and the candidate find out
they both enjoy scuba-diving and spend some
time discussing favorite locations. The candidate
makes a joke, and the manager laughs and lets
him know he’ll ‘fit right in’ with the team and the
company. No one else on the team, which
includes two women, is invited to interview the
candidate. The manager thinks that even though
he doesn’t have the exact experience required,
the candidate shows great potential, and makes
him an offer.
Managing bias - Tools
Instances where bias tends to crop-up, and actions that can be taken to mitigate it in order to
promote a meritocratic workplace!
Hiring and Recruiting
Assignments and Projects (for more on this, contact us!)
Meetings (for more on this, contact us!)
Rule of thumb: the more words used in a
review the less bias gets a chance to
Separate behaviors from skills and
Have a policy of transparency regarding
Back up global ratings with examples and dates
Separate performance and potential in reviews
Keep a list of biased ‘words’ that are not
allowed to be used (such as likeable)
Hiring and recruiting
Consider blind hiring (taking off names, gender,
location and school)
Have a minimum requirement of women and
minority applicants in the pool
Grade all resumes on the same scale (looking only at
experience, skills, competency)
Run job descriptions through a bias assessment tool
to weed out words that too strongly appeal to men
Add a disclaimer at the end of all job openings to
encourage women candidates (‘apply even if you
don’t meet all criteria’)
Use structured interviews and ask performance-
based questions (avoid unstructured conversations)
Have an open debrief before making an offer with all
interviewers, in order to catch biases in candidate
FOR MORE ON ALLYSHIP
BUILDING AND BIAS
MANAGEMENT CONTACT US!
Thank you for taking time
to learn how to build
allyship and confront bias!
Sources used in this training:
Building Allyship and
For the full training module