Curiosity and Allyship in the Workplace Create Equitable ChangeJanuary 22, 2021
Report warns against performative allyship, which undermines inclusive workplace cultures.
New York, New York, January 22, 2021 – Curiosity and allyship drive inclusion for people of color in the workplace, according to a new study from Catalyst. Conversely, the study, Allyship and Curiosity Drive Inclusion for People of Color at Work, cautions senior leaders to avoid performative allyship, which often maintains the status quo by appearing to support change without making real, equitable change for employees.
Report co-author Sheila Brassel, PhD, says curiosity in leaders fuels allyship by allowing them “to access the specific information about diversity, difference, and their colleagues” that they need to become more effective change agents.
“As we continue to experience the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and of social justice movements across the globe, leaders of organizations have an opportunity to become true allies to employees of color,” said Catalyst President & CEO Lorraine Hariton. “We hope this study serves as a guide for senior leaders and managers to cultivate and lead inclusive workplaces.”
The report advances earlier Catalyst research that shows inclusive leaders increase experiences of acceptance and inclusion at work for people of color, which boosts retention of these employees.
In the report:
- Allyship is defined as a means of “actively supporting people from marginalized groups … using as much institutional, social, and/or cultural privilege or power as you have to advocate” for them.
- Curiosity is defined as “proactively seeking out different points of view, listening to others, learning, and reflecting on what you’ve heard.” A curious leader should be “open to new perspectives, welcome respectful exchanges of ideas, and channel their learning into action.”
The study also warns against performative allyship—appearing to speak out against various injustices without actually changing one’s behavior or actively advocating against structures that uphold that injustice.
The report’s data was collected through the Catalyst Inclusion Accelerator, a diagnostic tool that evaluates and monitors how employees and workplace teams are experiencing inclusion.
This study reports survey results from 274 people of color working in the United States (52% women, 47% men, 1% did not indicate gender, 0% trans or non-binary). Respondents work across industry sectors, including engineering, administration/ general management, finance, research and development, and computer/ information systems.
Learn more and download the study.
Catalyst is a global nonprofit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with pioneering research, practical tools, and proven solutions to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone.
Naomi R. Patton
Vice President, Media & Public Relations
United States Communications Consultant