Allyship throughout history: Here's how we #breakthebias

Ian Clarke

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Reading time: 8 min

Last updated: November 28th, 2022

Allyship throughout history: Here's how we #breakthebias

Every International Women's Day, social media fills with the faces of capable talented women making the case for Change on gender representation, rights and opportunity within the leadership of our firms and societies. And with good reason.

Data Sources: Data on female inclusion and representation, from McGregor-Smith Report (2017), McKinsey & Co Why diversity matters Report (2020).

At a time when the world is facing sustained global recession, an authentic rather than performative commitment to equitable gender advocacy could add +26% to global GDP (Source: Gallup, McKinsey & Co). So what's holding us back?

Allyship throughout history

Inspired by American liberalists, the first International Women's Day was held on 19th March 1911, marked by over a million people across Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Within 7 years, except for Switzerland, those countries and others like the UK confirmed women's right to vote into legislation. But since then, there have been few as-significant milestones in the fight for gender equality.

When it comes to credit for the US civil rights movement, very few white people are mentioned. However historians have shown that, at great personal cost, white activists were front and centre alongside black people in the fight for de-segregation and social justice that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Allyship is defined by Merriam Webster as 'the state or condition of being an ally - a supportive association with another person or group - specifically the members of a marginalized or mistreated group to which one does not belong'.

In recent years, men have increasingly entered the conversation around women's rights, as campaigns like #MeToo, #ChooseToChallenge and #BreakTheBias have shone a clear light on little understood and often dismissed oppression still faced by marginalised women seeking nothing other than a chance to reach their potential.

Popular male figures such as Terry CrewsHarry BelfonteJohn Legend and Mark Ruffalo are advancing this conversation by speaking up for what's right. But history shows us those prepared to sacrifice their privilege for equality by actively pushing outgroup rights can expect economic reprisals, often losing jobs, physical violence, even the ultimate price. Perhaps that's why today fewer notable non-black voices are prepared to champion black rights.

Women cannot #BreakTheBias alone

Only Humanity can do that, because it is not women alone who suffer because of the bias nor suffer from bias themselves.

  • You don't need to be a Woman to campaign for Women and other Human rights: All genders are equally capable of championing the case for Change, providing they can manifest altruistic Free Will towards the greater common good that benefits everyone (themselves included), instead of being motivated by instinctive Self-Interest that benefits no one (themselves included).

  • Understand cause and effect to campaign for Women and other Human rights effectively: The Human Genome Project (2003) proved there is no intrinsic systematic difference (talent, creativity, ambition etc.) between men and women. Women are not being targeted by sexism. Those seeking power are using Social Construction to divide Humanity according to our extrinsic features so that we are unable to unite against the Hatred they themselves are sewing (see our article: The origins of oppression). The answer is to unite together as Human's against Hatred, not fuel divide and rule by demanding Men end their artificial reign of Patriarchy.

As a leading male voice on social justice in banking and champion of women's workplace rights everywhere, I felt dejected without a single booking for IWD2022. Then I learnt it wasn't personal.

Our entire world, every organisation it seems, is blind to the power of allyship as the only effective strategy against oppression. So next IWD, we want to propose a different approach that would finally move the dial for women.

  • Firms and ERG's seeking speakers for flagship events should expand their search to also include inspiring men championing rights for women.

  • Every passionate woman motivated to strike a pose should also seek to engage just one man to repost on their behalf, adding an additional hashtag #Humansbreakingthebias.

After all, in a world where not even white heterosexual men can reach their full potential because of the glaring inequity and structural failure of the current global system, isn't it worth all Human's finding the courage to accept it's time for a Change?

Need a hand to #BreakTheBias at your organisation?

'The power of allyship' is our signature talk anchored in the science of Humanism and the lessons of history, told to academic standards and available through our 'Unity and Identity' change making toolkit. Using the science of Sapience, we infuse your people with a highly productive collective common identity, strong sense of collaboration-building unity, a risk-busting appreciation for all corners of Humanity, and a reinvigorated ability to affect change themselves. Is your firm ready to advance your uncomfortable conversations from talk into meaningful action territory?

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