What The Research Says: Change Catalyst’s “State Of Allyship Report”
For the first episode of Season 5, Melinda is joined by Change Catalyst team members Renzo Santos and Merve Bulgurcu to discuss key insights from the newly released State of Allyship Report: The Key to Workplace Inclusion. Melinda, Renzo, and Merve take you through the important findings the team has uncovered about what people want and need from allies, why allyship is important for business, and how people become better allies. Download the State of Allyship Report at ally.cc/report.
- Pre-Order Melinda’s new book!! How to Be an Ally: Actions You Can Take for a Stronger, Happier Workplace
- Download the “State of Allyship Report”
- Episode 16: “How To Be A Great Ally”
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MELINDA: Hey, everyone. Welcome back. Go ahead and introduce yourself in the chat if you wouldn’t mind and we will get started shortly.
U Das, welcome. Vina. Introduce yourselves. Let us know who you are and where you are from. We already started. You are telling us who you are. Please do and continue. Hey, Jewel. Good to see you. Crystal, thanks for introducing yourself. From the Vegas area. Shelly from San Francisco. Jerica from Chicago. Crystal used to live in Seattle. I used to live there as well and grew up there. Good to see you, Heidi. Awesome. Heidi and I have known each other quite a while. At least a decade. Maybe a couple decades. Somewhere in there.
Let’s go ahead and – I didn’t talk through the slides. Let me do that for anybody who is Blind or Low Vision or on the phone. We have a code of conduct at ally.co/COC.
This is Leading With Empathy & Allyship with Melinda Briana Epler, myself. The slide has lots of different faces of different folks who have joined us over the last year and a half. Coming up next week is with Ritu Bhasin. She will host a behind the scenes with myself on the day of the book launch, which is on September 14th. We want to invite you to the book launch party! You can RSVP. I will be joined by awesome friends and my husband and partner, Wayne Sutton. If you are interested in getting a signed copy of the book that’s a good way to do it. It is included in one of the ticket options.
This is season 5. Visit Ally.cc for more information and #AllyshipPodcast. This slide has a picture of Renzo and Merve, who will describe themselves later. This is created by Change Catalyst. Changecatalyst.co.
Let’s dive in. Welcome to Leading With Empathy & Allyship. We have deep, real conversations about how we can be more inclusive leaders in our workplaces and communities here. I am Melinda Briana Epler, the Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst and your host. At Change Catalyst, we build inclusive innovation through training, consulting and events. This is a safe space to learn, to build empathy for each other.
Today we will talk a lot about the research and, please, feel free to ask any questions. We will also leave time at the end for Q&A.
This is episode 53 where we will be talking about what the research says. Change Catalyst State of Allyship Report. I am joined by two members of my team, Renzo and Merve. We will present insights from our new reports which have been developed after years of doing research on allyship and collecting data. We will discuss what people need from allies, what they want from allies, and why allyship is important for business and how to become better allies.
On screen, we have two ASL interpreters. They will be tag teaming today. Thank you to Interpreter-Now for your amazing partnership. This is also being live captioned by Maggie at White Coat Captioning. Go to “closed caption” at the bottom of the screen and you should be able to adjust it.
Our team is behind the scenes: Juliette and Christina are in the chat and Q&A as well. Please use the Q&A and the chat freely. It definitely helps when we know what you are thinking and what’s resonating for you.
Let me go ahead and share my slides and Renzo and Merve are going to introduce themselves to you. OK. You all know me. I just introduced myself. You can find me on Twitter. That’s our website there. Also, feel free to email me directly. I am going to pass it on to Renzo and Merve to share who they are.
RENZO: Thank you, Melinda. I am Renzo Santos, the Finance and Operations Analyst of Change Catalyst. I joined Change Catalyst back in late 2018. I handle the finances of the organization and I also help with the operations, especially with data management and data analysis.
MERVE: So, hi, everyone. I am Merve Bulgurcu. I am part of the team. I joined Change Catalyst as a Data Analyst four months ago. I have had the great chance to work on this great allyship report and I am here to share our insights with you. I also need to say I am very passionate about promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion and delivering data-driven impact at any level.
MELINDA: Excited to have you both in front of the screen and on the podcast. As you know, my new book, How to Be an Ally, is coming out next week. Appreciate you purchasing a copy, sharing it with friends and colleagues and reviewing it after you read it. Just so you know, early sales and pre-sales make a huge difference in the overall success of the book. That’s why we are talking about it so much leading up to it. And then also contact us if you are interested in a bulk order for your team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a launch party next week. Please do join us. You can find out more at ally.cc/booklaunch.
Today we are going to talk about the State of Allyship Report: The Key to Workplace Inclusion. The Change Catalyst team has been facilitating conversations and learning and development programs and allyship since 2015. This report is really a culmination of all our learning about allyship over the years.
Thank you, Heidi and Crystal. Appreciate you.
Some of the things we have done to learn more about allyship: we posted short talks from diverse people with underrepresented identities about allyship across six years of our Tech Inclusion conferences and events; we facilitated training workshops with thousands of leaders, managers, advocates and activists, and workplaces across global organizations; and we created programs on diversity and inclusion and allyship and coach leaders through inclusive leadership coaching. Also, a lot of 1:1 learning. We advised employee resource groups and DEI advocates. We have this show now in our fifth season where we learn a lot from allies and activists every year. I spent two and a half years writing a book on allyship. Conducted interviews and reviewed 300 articles on that. We have reached millions of people and we read the comments and learn about what people are thinking there. Finally, we collected a broad range of data from a global study on allyship.
Some limitations of this study: since most clients are headquartered in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK, we focused on these regions for the study, knowing there is a lot more to learn about allyship globally and in the future we do hope to expand it to different regions.
We are excited to share the learnings with you. In considering what people want from allies, we found 17 different themes over the years of our research and training. Then we asked people to prioritize those. We found, overwhelmingly, people want allies to show trust in them, to help boost their confidence and courage, and to mentor them. This top priority does differ by gender, race, ethnicity, and other aspects of identity. Women generally prioritize that allies help give them confidence or courage, and men primarily look for allies to trust them, where non-binary folks prefer their allies to mentor them first and foremost.
You will see here that regionally the top three answers are similar; however, trust me, give me confidence and courage are equal in the US. But for people in the UK and Canada, trust is higher, and in Australia, mentor is the clear top answer. People with disabilities equally prioritized trust me, take action when somebody says or does something harmful, and educate themselves to better understand me and my identity. LGBTQ folks tend to prefer their allies take action when somebody does something harmful to them. Black people tend to prefer that people learn about their biases first and foremost, where Indigenous people want their allies to take actions when somebody harms them. White and Asian people primarily look for their allies to trust them. Latinx and Hispanic people most support through confidence and courage and – it really does range quite a bit depending on who you are and your full identity.
Many people have intersectional identities. No one is a monolith. Remember: good allies listen and learn what somebody is experiencing, show empathy, understand what’s needed and then take action.
These are just a few insights we found from the report. There is more you can learn when you go to the full report.
The other thing is how allies support people is not necessarily the same as how they want to be supported. For Black people, priorities are different. The top priority for Black people is for people to learn about their biases, but when they talk about how allies have shown up for them, learning about their biases is sixth in the list. Taking action when somebody harms them is the second priority for Black people, yet it falls to ninth in the list of actual support. We do need to do a better job of listening and learning and showing empathy and really understanding what people want from their allies.
MERVE: Our research confirms that allies make a big difference. 92% of people feel allies have been valuable and the more allies people have, the more they find allyship valuable. The majority of people, 68% of them, have at least two allies at work. However, 20% have just one ally and 12% have no allies at all. And only 10% of them have more than 5 allies.
Let me dig deeper to understand how the numbers change with the identities. Men tend to have more allies in the workplace compared to women and people who are non-binary. 25% of men have four or more allies and it is 22% for everyone, 21% for people who are non-binary. And also, Black employees and the LBGTQIA+ tend to have the most allies. 26% of Black employees and 27% of LGBTQIA employees have four or more allies in their workplace. It is a little higher for the first generation students. 30% of first generation students reported that they have four or more allies.
And we also look at when the allyship is encouraged in the workplace. When it says encourage, with training for example, people tend to have more allies. That is not surprising because once you learn and know more about allyship then you can begin to take action and begin to become an ally.
We discovered almost everyone, 96% of people who work at a company where allyship is a priority, has at least one ally. It is only 56% of people in working companies are allyship is not encouraged. Strikingly, 44% of people working at the companies where allyship is not encouraged have no allies at all. While only 7% of people working in companies where the allies is a priority have no allies.
There is another important finding here. Our data showed us people who work at companies where allyship is not encouraged are 3.6 times more likely to never have an ally help them in their career.
Allies play a critical role as we worked to build more diverse and inclusive companies. There are many ways that allyship makes a difference in the workplace. We asked about these differences. Our data shows that an ally can significantly increase engagement, feelings of overall happiness, productivity, and it can increase sense of belonging at work, psychological safety and the likelihood of staying at a company and can reduce stress and create opportunities for career advancements.
MELINDA: Awesome. You can see, for so many of these, things we work on in different ways at our company and simply having an ally can make such a difference in the different business outcomes.
RENZO: Definitely. Just as there is a business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our research we wanted to note and prove there is a strong business case for allyship. In our research, we were interested to know the impact of allyship through inclusion, especially on psychological safety, workplace satisfaction, and belonging.
The results are very informative. We found out with at least one ally in the workplace, people were likely to feel they belong in the organization, be satisfied with their workplace culture, and be satisfied with their job. We dig deeper and wanted to explore how allyship impact people who experience workplace discrimination.
We ask people in our survey if they have ever felt that their identity has played a role in their missing out on a raise, promotion, key assignment, or a chance to get ahead. The result nearly half, or 49%, have experienced workplace-discrimination in their life. They answered yes. Our data showed the rate is higher for many underrepresented groups.
People with disabilities, for instance, have the highest incidents at 75%. That’s three out of four people with disabilities experiencing workplace discrimination. This is followed by veterans and Black people at 73%, people who are non-binary at 69%, people from Middle East and North Africa region at 68%, Indigenous people at 67%, LGBTQIA folks at 65%, immigrants at 59%. Latinx and Hispanic at 54% and women at 53%.
We should also consider that these percentages vary by intersectionality. While 46% of White women experience discrimination, 39% of White men experience discrimination and that’s 63% of women of color experiencing discrimination with Black and Indigenous women experiencing the highest rates at 73% and 71%respectively. By contrast, 37% of straight, White men and 43% of straight Asian men report experiencing discrimination.
Zooming out, our research also found out that companies actually benefit from encouraging allyship. In general, when companies encourage allyship, people are 1.4 times more likely to feel safe. 1.7 times more likely to have at least one ally. 1.7 times more likely to feel satisfied with their job. 1.8 times more likely to be satisfied with the workplace culture. And 2 times more likely to feel they belong.
As a matter of fact, almost everyone, 96%, who works at the company that encourages allyship, has at least one ally compared to just 56% of people in companies where allyship is not a priority.
People who also work in companies that prioritize allyship find greater value in their allies. 89% of people who work at companies where allyship is a priority find allies valuable while only just 2% believe that allies are not valuable.
The research discovered people who experience workplace discrimination in their careers are 1.8 times more likely to feel unsafe and 2.1 times more likely to feel they don’t belong in an organization thus it clearly affects the business.
How does this connect to allyship? The data tells us that when they have at least one ally in the workplace they do feel safer and they do feel that they belong more. When they have at least one ally, Black people are 1.4 times more likely to feel safe. For women it is 1.9 times more likely. For people with disabilities it is 2.7 times more likely and for LBGTQIA+ folks it is 4.4 times more likely of feeling safer in the organization.
These numbers actually grow with the number of allies someone has. So the more allies you have the safer you do feel.
And we also wanted to know if companies are doing enough. We asked people if they want their workplaces to do more to encourage allyship. Our data shows that just 15% of employees don’t want their companies to do more to encourage allyship. Thus there is space for more allyship and workspaces.
We also found out that companies often overlook managers when it comes to DEI programs, yet they are the most interested with 70% of managers compared to entry and senior levels wanting their company to do more to encourage allyship. And, interestingly, when allyship is encouraged in the workplace, with training for example, people want more encouragement of allyship in their workplace.
Wrapping up the business case, our data shows number one, allyship improves key business outcomes. Number two, allyship plays a big difference in people who experience workplace discrimination. Number three, that there are companies that will benefit from doing more to encourage allyship. And number four, people want their companies to do more.
MELINDA: Fantastic. Thank you, Merve and Renzo. We also wanted to learn more about how people learn and what the behavior change mechanisms are.
First, I want to talk a little bit about the “Stages of Allyship,” which is a behavioral change model we developed at Change Catalyst that shows the steps people take along their allyship journey.
I spoke about this in detail back in Episode 16, which was almost a year ago, so, in that episode you might take a look. I talked about each of the “Stages of Allyship” and my own journey through those steps.
Just as a refresher: most people start at “Denier.” I did, and I am sure most of you did as well. There are many passive deniers who are not yet aware of the need for allyship nor how to take action as an ally.
For deniers, they need ways to become more aware of inequity, injustice, and exclusion through stories. That’s what we learned. They tend to want to learn or tend to learn by hearing from other people’s experiences. Just 3% of people are active deniers, meaning when they learn about the need for allyship they are actively opposed to it. Just 3%. They might be loud in the organization. I have certainly given talks where they are loud in the chat, but it is 3% in total.
The second is “Observer.” Someone testing that new understanding. They are learning and taking it in and not activated.
An “Ally” is activated. They are working to actively reduce unintentional harm that they cause themselves and intervening when they see harm as well. Leading that change in the organizations and in the world.
An “Accomplice” breaks the rules and dismantles inequitable structures, and builds them more equitably. And becomes the activist who dedicates their life and career to creating change.
If we go around those different stages, 3% deniers, 16% observers, 20% are learners so a lot of people are inactive allies and just starting, 22% are active allies or allies, 21% are advocates. And I will say that we did not study accomplices in this research. I will skip over that. 17% are activists.
In this case, we defined “Activist” as spending a few hours a week on allyship, or it is their full-time job. How that looks across different regions: in the US, we have more observers. People that are just starting on their allyship journey. A large percentage of Australians are learners. Just the next stage forward.
The UK tends to have more deniers than other regions at 8%. And also, looking deeper, 11% of White men in the UK are in the denier stage.
We consider active allies to be anyone who is in the “Ally” stage and beyond, and we found 60% of people are active allies, having at least taken a few actions as allies. We found there are fewer active allies in Australia, 54%, than in Canada, 62%, and in the UK and US, 60%.
Shelly, welcome, as a “Learner.” Awesome.
Training leads to a difference in where people are in the “Stages of Allyship.” That can be anti-harassment, inclusive leadership training, allyship training, mentor training. In organizations that offer training of any type, the average person is further along their journey and at the advocate and activist stages.
In companies that don’t offer training, people are more likely to be at the “Observer” state. 9% are deniers compared to 3% when this is offered. Training makes a difference.
In organizations that offer allyship training, just 1% of people are in the denial stage.
How do people learn about the need for allyship? We definitely wanted to know what their first “aha moment” was. Of the people that remembered how they learned about their need for allyship, most people say they learn about their negative experience a colleague or friend went through.
That does mean that we need to tell our stories. It makes it more difficult to move people from deniers to observers because they have to have that moment of realization and it does take learning a story from somebody that’s close to them. Storytelling from friend to friend or colleague to colleague can make a big difference.
The top answer was the same for all regions, however number two is different. In Australia, people want to learn about the need for allyship through training. In Canada, through events. In the US, they learn by having a negative experience themselves. In the UK via social media or books is second.
It is different depending on your identity, and so people with disabilities and immigrants tend to learn by having a negative experience themselves primarily. The top answers for women are learning about an experience their colleague went through and learning about their own negative experience. Learning about their own negative experience is higher for people who are Indigenous, MENA, Arab, Latinx, or Hispanic.
One-third of White men learn by hearing a negative experience a colleague or friend went through. And White men are less likely to learn about the need for allyship based on their own personal experience. That wasn’t surprising. They are more likely than other genders, races and ethnicities to learn about an experience through training or social media or news or a book.
And the last insight here is that notably people who work at companies where allyship is not encouraged are twice as likely to learn about allyship due to a negative experience they themselves experienced.
What motivates people to be allies? The top answer is fairness and justice, followed by wanting to be a good leader and paying it forward. Men are more motivated by fairness and justice followed by being a good leader. Women are motivated also by fairness and justice followed by paying it forward and being a good leader. And people who are non-binary are motivated by their colleagues first followed by the next-generation and the partner or good friend. It is quite different, actually. We also find that people working at companies that are dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion are 1.7 times more likely to be motivated by business success and 1.4 times more likely to be motivated by being a good leader. They are integrating motion with the business case when their company focuses on it.
The top motivator for Arab or MENA people are their colleagues, and for veterans it’s being a good leader. For Indigenous leaders, the top motivator is fairness and justice tied and the next-generation. Being motivated by the next-generation also ranks higher for veterans and Black people as well.
What do people find the most challenging about being a good ally? The number one answer is the lack of skills, knowledge, and/or confidence. The second is a lack of time, priority, and/or patience. The third is the non-supportive workplace culture or a culture that does not support allyship, does not encourage allyship. The lack of time, patience, and priority is the second for all groups except Indigenous people. It is tied with LBGTQIA+ folks whose top answer is not in a supportive place for allyship to feel safe and encouraged.
LGBTQIA folks are also 1.4 times more likely to struggle with a workplace culture that is not supportive compared to people who are not LGBTQIA+.
Having a trust deficit with colleagues comes fourth overall and third for Black people, first generation citizens and managers and senior level leaders. This trust deficit includes not having built enough trust for colleagues to support them adequately or feel like they can support them adequately, being authentic and trustworthy.
Men, managers, and senior level leaders are 1.3 times more likely to have a trust deficit than their counterpart.
And that last piece of insight here is we wanted to make sure we knew how people most want to learn about allyship. Above all, people are interested in learning about allyship through interactive training and self-guided online courses. Those rose high compared to the rest.
Training pays off. We found that 93% of people working at companies that provide allyship training have at least one ally in the workplace and people who work at companies that offer allyship training are 1.6 times more likely to be satisfied with their job, 1.2 times more likely to feel safe in the workplace. When companies don’t offer training, the people who work there are 4.3 times more likely to have no allies at all. That’s a huge difference.
Interactive training ranks number one across all identities except for people with a disability. Research is second for non-binary, Asian, and veterans. And people who are MENA or Arab prefer podcasts and online courses second. For women, events and meetups are tied for third. That rank is similar across different regions.
Interactive workplace, interactive workshops, self-guided online courses and research is the same for all regions, except Canadians prefer research second and online courses third. Safe conversations to explore allyship is fourth for White and Black women but absolutely last for White men. It comes in last.
When they don’t have allies in the workplace, men and women rank having safe conversations as second and it rises to the top for LGBTQIA+ folks who don’t have allies.
You can find more about our findings and find the details of our report, the full report, at ally.cc/report. I will note that currently you can download the executive summary and next week you will be able to download the full report. For those in the audience, we will let you know when that full report is available. We will send you an email.
What questions do you have? Or what thoughts do you have after hearing about this? I don’t think we have anything in the Q&A. You are fascinated by what we talked about.
Anything that resonates for you? Thank you, Robert. This talk is super informative and would love to share the findings. Ariyah, can you troubleshoot the link?
Yes, Heidi, the full report will be long and full of insights, actually. Yeah, absolutely. Intersectional data on women reporting discrimination was significant. Absolutely. I was surprised at that number as well.
The experience of disabled folks was quite different. Several answers were different for people with disabilities. Absolutely agree with that. There is a lot more work that we can do in our workplaces to go deeper and measure. There is a lot of demographic information that’s really important. Looking across inclusion and engagement data for disabled folks.
Shelby says, “my company introduced me to how to be an ally, safe conversations during a brown bag lunch room called ‘Idea.’” Awesome. Larissa, we did not break it down into different disabilities. Unfortunately, that’s definitely something that’s room for the future in terms of research. Awesome.
Jewel says, “such interesting and overwhelming details.” Everyone’s different depending on who they are. Working to be an ally it seems is the best approach is to be authentic and humble. There is insight here that trusting and giving people confidence and courage definitely rose to the top. Things that are fairly easy for all of us to do, really, it doesn’t take a lot.
And, yes, Jewel says we have to ask more than we assume. Absolutely. How can I? Yeah. Did we break it down by age? We did. There is not a lot about that and Rex asks this question. There is not a lot about that in our report. If you are really interested in this, you can definitely contact us and we can give you more insights.
Madeline asks: “How does an organization balance ally actions that focus on inclusion and ERG-affiliate groups that provide space for specific groups?” There are two different things and also can be merged somewhat as well. I think you need to focus separately on building allies, and also a lot of organizations are inviting allies to their ERGs as well. Not necessarily for all programming because there may be space for people to fully be themselves and feel safe being themselves. That’s maybe more an appropriate thing. ERGs are a great place, or affiliate groups, are a great place to provide that safe space for people to truly be who they’re, to self-organize, and to develop their own programming and invite allies as they like into that.
I would also recommend that you focus on teaching people how to be allies because the number one thing, the number one challenge is that people don’t have enough skills and knowledge to feel like they can step up as allies. That is not necessarily learned by ERG events and conversations. Awesome.
Yeah, Shelly, I think it is interesting that there is a big discrepancy between what underrepresented groups want and what allies think they want. It is important to recognize that and one of the reasons why we did the report.
Well, if there are no other questions, I will go ahead and move to the next slide. In one week my book comes out, How to Be an Ally. Check it out. We have a website. Consider pre-ordering.
Come to the launch party! It should be fun. We will have an emcee and I will have a conversation with Wayne, Rachel, Ritu, and Tiffany. We will toast and then have a conversation. We will actually be able to see each other which will be cool. I hope I see some of your amazing faces there. Ally.cc/booklaunch.
Coming up next week, our next episode: Episode 54. Ritu Bhasin is going to host a conversation with me about my journey and the book, and I am not sure what else she has planned. Please join us for that as well. I am looking forward to not hosting next week. I am excited, again, to share all this research with you. This is something we have been working on for a very long time.
And the full report will be available next week. You should be able to go download the executive summary now.
Alright, everybody. Have an amazing week. And thank you, all, for joining, and yes, thank you, Shelly. Appreciate you. Have an amazing week and we will see you next Tuesday. And thank you, Merve and Renzo, for your amazing work.