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A Guide to Allyship for Racial Equality

Last month, Procore launched its Building for Change Series, a collection of blogs focused on building Inclusion and Diversity efforts within the industry. This series was developed with support and input from industry experts and partners including Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California, McKinstry, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and Hilti to ensure the content is both informative and actionable. It also leverages insights from Procore’s internal Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as well as Procore's Inclusion and Diversity Department. In this blog, we’ll provide helpful tips on how to show up as an ally for racial equality.

What is an ally?

Before we begin, let’s start with the basics. In order to show up as an ally, let’s first define what it is. An ally is someone who takes action to support an underrepresented or marginalized group but is not themselves a member of that group. One can be an ally for members of any underrepresented or marginalized group—for example, those defined by racial identity, gender identity, disability, nationality, socioeconomic status, faith identity, or sexual orientation. Although this guide is focused on how to be an ally for racial equality, these concepts can apply to being a strong ally for members of any and all underrepresented, underserved, or marginalized groups.

5 Tips to Better Allyship

For many who are seeking to be an ally, the most common question is often: How can I help? We’ve outlined 5 tips on how to become a better ally.

Tip #1: Lead with curiosity and listen to build empathy

How an individual experiences the world largely depends on an array of factors including past events, personal beliefs, and cultural values. This means that within a certain group, there will be a range of interpretations and feelings. Generalizing how a certain group feels, acts, or perceives the world discredits the uniqueness of their identity. Just because one member of a group perceives the world a certain way doesn’t mean everyone from that group shares their view. And always be sure to listen to understand instead of listening to respond.

Tip #2: Take action.

The only way to address the challenges of racism, injustice, and inequality is exactly that—by addressing them. Start somewhere. One great place to start is the Project Implicit website, where you can take tests to help you uncover your unconscious associations and biases. Then, you can continue to educate yourself by reading books, listening to podcasts, meeting new people, or watching films. This will help you challenge unconscious biases, take a more active role in challenging inequity when you see it, and communicate candidly when having difficult conversations.

Tip #3: If you see injustice or inequality, say something—even if it is uncomfortable.

If you find that conversations are uncomfortable, consider pausing to reflect on why they are uncomfortable. Talk to others with different perspectives. Journal or write down your thoughts. Understand that becoming a better ally is a process and will take continual work to do better. Above all, remember to practice active and empathic listening.

Tip #4: Do the research—read books, watch films, and listen to podcasts.

To make an impact, an ally must first take the time to learn about racial inequality—its history, why it still exists today, and how to dismantle it. Read books, listen to podcasts, and start conversations to better understand what you can do to create change. Keep in mind that many well-intentioned allies often reach out directly to people in the underrepresented or marginalized community to ask for guidance. However, it is not up to these communities to educate those who want to be allies for them—it is the responsibility of an ally to put in the time and do the work themselves.

Tip #5: Learn how to navigate challenging conversations when they arise.

Having conversations about race, inequality, microaggressions, and other topics can be challenging and uncomfortable—both at home and at work. There are great resources available to help build your skills in navigating challenging conversations such as this LinkedIn training, this step-by-step checklist, these 12 tips, and the book Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

How will you make an impact?

As an ally, it may seem overwhelming when trying to understand where to start to fight systemic racism. The reality is, it isn’t something that will be solved overnight, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start somewhere or that your actions won’t make an impact.

Becoming more aware and knowledgeable of these issues is the first step toward becoming better allies. Remember that supporting racial equality isn’t a one-time act. It’s a long-term commitment that involves constant improvement. But most importantly, it’s a commitment to creating a cultural and societal shift—one that goes beyond an organization’s walls and into the social fabric of our communities. It’s an action that drives change far into the future.

So as you begin your journey to become a better ally, ask yourself: What will I do to make an impact? Feel free to leave a comment below about ideas for how you’ll make an impact.

Remember, it’s up to each of us to learn, take action, and move past our discomfort to drive greater inclusivity and racial equality. Each of us must be prepared to put in the time and do the work—because that’s precisely where change begins.

We want to hear you. If you’re interested in being featured in an upcoming blog or webinar, we invite you to share your stories with us.