I was so happy to have a conversation with Kristen Eggler, a fourth-year I-O doctoral student at the University of Georgia, for an episode of our livestream video series, Better Humans at Work (BH@W).
Kristen conducts research broadly related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. She aims to use her research to impact the world by identifying structural inequities and motivating empirically validated social action. Kristen's current projects focus on understanding and defining allyship, biases in measurement in survey responses and artificial intelligence, and the implementation of organizational policies.
Kristen and I had a great conversation about what workplace allyship is, how to measure it, and how to advance it within organizations.
What is the definition of allyship?
Allyship as a set of processes, including affective or emotional, behavioral actions, and cognitive thoughts, and how those actions, when compounded over time, are able to work toward achieving the broad goal of ending systemic oppression.
In other words, allyship includes feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, and all three of these components are important to measure and evaluate when considering allyship.
One question that often arises when thinking about what it means to be an ally is who can be an ally. Traditionally, definitions centered around those who don’t hold a marginalized identity enacting allyship for those who do, I.e. a man being an ally for a woman or a white person enacting allyship for a Black person.
But, what Kristen’s research has found, is that those who are the most active allies are often those who have a marginalized identity themselves. When we exclude those individuals from our definitions of allyship, we are not giving space to everyone who has power in a given situation and wants to use it to make a difference.
How should we measure allyship?
There is a lack of consensus in the research literature about the best way to approach measuring allyship. But, based on the definition that Kristen provided, it’s clear that we need a multicomponent scale. What does that mean? We need to get the whole picture of allyship by assessing affect, behavior, and cognitions.
As an organizational leader, if you’re looking to assess allyship it is essential to hear from everyone in the organization, including both beneficiaries and actors of allyship. This approach provides valuable insight from both sides. A disconnect between those enacting allyship and those receiving it can lead to bad outcomes for everyone.
Remember that anyone can be a recipient or an enactor of allyship. Taking an intersectional approach to understanding allyship is essential. There needs to be space and recognition in your measurement for those who have marginalized identities and are allies to others.
What are three ways we can advance allyship in organizations?
If you are looking to advance allyship in your organization, here are three recommendations from Kristen on how to get started:
Utilize a comprehensive measure of allyship, including emotions, behaviors, and thoughts about allyship.
Ensure everyone in your organization is included in measurement, not just those traditionally considered allies or those traditionally thought of as recipients of allyship.
Have targeted outcomes to any allyship measurement or intervention effort and measure those outcomes accordingly.
If you want to learn more about Kristen and her work, contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Do you want to learn more about stepping up your allyship game? Contact Mattingly Solutions today to learn how we can partner to advance your DEI goals. Together.