What Does It Really Mean to Be An Ally?

Ashish Kaushal
Consciously Unbiased
3 min readOct 23, 2020


Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

There has been a lot of talk about allyship in the workplace given the social unrest that’s happening across the country and around the world. Many people wonder what it really means to be an ally, and whether or not they can consider themselves one.

To dig deeper into what it looks like to show up as an authentic ally in the workplace, I asked leaders who are walking the talk for their take on the subject‚ because I believe real conversations can help drive change. I (virtually) sat down with Dr. Lanail R. Plummer, CEO and Clinical Director of Onyx Therapy Group, Drew Train, Co Founder and President of OBERLAND, Davianne Harris, partner and Head of Strategy at OBERLAND, and Keni Thacker, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of 100 Roses from Concrete to discuss the ways in which people can start viewing allyship not only a title, but a new way of being in the workplace.

You can watch the full conversation in this Consciously Unbiased segment here, or read below for some key takeaways.

Why It’s Best For Others To Name You An Ally

“One should not automatically call themselves an ally. That should be a title that’s granted to you because others can see the work that you’re constantly and consistently doing.”

~Dr. Lanail R. Plummer CEO and Clinical Director of Onyx Therapy Group

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

“You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and take the risk of jumping into that pool. You don’t know how deep it is, but you just gotta go all in. You gotta jump. Part of it is reflection and reflection of your own personality and what risks you’re willing to expose yourself to, and then just doing it.”

~Drew Train Co Founder and President of OBERLAND

Allyship Is About Standing Down

“The aspect of sacrifice is the hardest part for so many when we talk about allyship. The idea of standing down to give others an opportunity to rise up is so key. I think it’s easy for someone to reach out or to, when it feels convenient, post something [on social media] or push back. Those are all important and great things, but that aspect of discomfort, sacrifice, reflection, and being able to understand the privileges you’re afforded so that you can put them aside in an effort to help someone else.”

~Davianne Harris Partner and Head of Strategy at OBERLAND

Making Room At The Table Increases Opportunities For All

“I know that some people think, “I don’t want to be an ally because then I’ll have to make room at the table.” The thing is, when you add to the table, the table only gets bigger. It doesn’t get smaller.”

~Keni Thacker Founder and Chief Creative Officer of 100 Roses from Concrete

When it comes to true allyship, I believe support must be shown both internally and externally. I think it’s awesome that companies are spending $100 million dollars and donating to Black Lives Matter, but they also need to spend $100 million dollars internally to change things. I don’t think it should be one or the other, it should be both.

The bottom line is that allyship extends past thinking of people within marginalized groups as equals and is truly about treating people within marginalized groups as equals. It’s not a title or status symbol as much as it is a way to actively use your privilege to reach out and lift others up. How are you working towards incorporating allyship into your everyday life? I’d love to hear in the comments below.



Ashish Kaushal
Consciously Unbiased

Ashish is the founder of Consciously Unbiased, a grassroots movement and organization promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.