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I haven’t posted in a while as I haven’t known what to say that would be useful for people, in a world where we have a deadly virus and the senseless killing of George Floyd. Trying to make sense of the world, and the people within it, has been difficult. Furthermore, fear of the saying the wrong thing, has caused me to say nothing, which is the worst thing I could have done.

The world – like the people living within it – is imperfect, but it is still full of opportunities for growth and achievement

Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Introducing Allyship

Today (14 June 2020) I attended a powerful conversation led and facilitated by Lou Chiu of Lou Chiu Coaching and Consultancy ( The session was about ‘Making sense of Allyship’. What made this session so powerful, emotional, challenging and thought-provoking was the raw, honest and brave stories shared by the participants, under the amazing leadership and coaching of Lou.

Key insights for me where:

  • Diversity Fatigue – the feeling you get, tensing of shoulders and the deep intake of breath, when equality and diversity initiatives are mandated and feel like ‘tick box’ exercises – everyone’s HR bug bear
  • Racial Battle Fatigue – the tiredness and exhaustion from continuous micro-aggression experienced on a day to day basis. To illustrate this Lou shared an experience she recently had – when signing for a parcel the delivery driver said to her ‘your English is so good, what are you?’, in response Lou thought to herself ‘Am I in a space energy wise to call this out and have this battle, when no-else in the room will stand with me’ (thanks Lou for letting me share this story)
  • Advocacy – where groups are not invited or part of the discussion, you actively involve people from that group to input/share their experience. For example – HR writing a policy on flexible working, when the person/team writing the policy has no experience of children or caring for a dependent. Getting input from people/groups with lived experience should be actively sought
  • Representation – having someone who identifies with a particular group and can talk about the experiences of that group

When you are in the position where you can get different groups involved, be an ally – create the space for people. Create the space so people can feel safe to represent their group and their views.

Make the Space, Make the Case

Lou Chiu

What does Allyship mean?

Allyship is not an identity, it is a philosophy that requires a person to take informed action against all forms of bias and discrimination.

Taylor (2015) from ‘Activating change through allyship’ defines Allyship as ‘no matter how you identify, being an ally means honouring unique experiences and championing respect, in your own way’.

In his research into Allyship in sports, Taylor (2015) found that Athlete Allys created change when they:

  1. Initiated dialogue
  2. Encouraged peers to confront inappropriate behaviour
  3. Spread the message

The power of the bystander really hit home for me, in the delivery driver story Lou shared. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, they found that without people being prepared to stand with and call out when they see this type of behaviour ‘gateway behaviour’ develops.

Gateway behaviour, as defined by HBR, is when people look the other way during an incident of low-level harassment, which allows the harassment to intensify over time. By intervening early, at the first sign of a red-flag moment, bystanders can break the cycle and prevent the problem from worsening (HBR 2020)

Juno Dawson (2014) provides a framework that works for me for speaking up –

  1. Question – What do you mean by that?
  2. Understanding – This is how it came across to me XXX, was that your intention?
  3. Institution – The [insert name of workplace] is a tolerant place, you can’t say that
  4. Feel – I consider that offensive/upsetting/inappropriate

The key is doing what you feel comfortable doing and being authentic to you. Only challenge if you feel safe and happy to do so – don’t get into confrontations or put yourself at risk

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud

Maya Angelou

GROWTH MINDSET – Always be learning…

The biggest learning for me is that getting it wrong is better than saying nothing.

When I do get it wrong, it will suck for me and those involved, but it is better to learn and ultimately be better.

Sound-bites that will stay with me

As mentioned above, the stories shared by others was transformational for me – here are some quotes that will stick with me…

“Talk to, rather than walk by”

“Try to keep learning rather than not act for fear of how others may see you”

“Do your best, be brave and be active”

“Keep the conversation focused on sharing stories, kindness and humanity”

Lou Chiu

I understand, I will never really understand, but I stand. I am committed to learning and doing what I can to be an ally. I know I will make mistakes but I want to learn, I want to be better.

Get in touch with Lou Chiu

Lou is a culture and relationship coach. Lou uses the combination of lived personal and professional experiences, academic curiosity and values-led drive to help businesses and not-for-profits untangle existing complications in the workplace, manage conflict between personal and professional spaces, and translate the different languages that
are used in relationships at work,at home and with stakeholders.

As well as her coaching practice, Lou is also a Trustee at University of Suffolk Students’ Union, a mental health advocate with, a MA Coaching and Mentoring Practices student at Oxford Brookes University, and a cofounder of City Centre Games, a local gaming community to bring curious and tentative gamers together.

Get in touch with Lou at:

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About me

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