Allyship is not a marketing strategy

Neon rainbow with love messages for Pride Month. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Allyship is not a marketing strategy

13/06/2023

 

13/06/2023

 

Allyship is not a marketing strategy

WRITTEN BY

Shirley Siluk
Senior editor

Originally from Chicago, where she also attended Northwestern University (a Tony alma mater too – go Wildcats!), Shirley leads US editorial as a senior editor/writer, now based in Florida.

Here at Collective Content, we’ve always made it our mission to be transparent about how we work – not only in our client work, but behind the scenes as well. And we thought now would be a good time to provide some insights into our thinking around diversity – in particular, around how we speak about and recognise events like Pride Month, Black History Month and other diversity-centred commemorative observations.

Our agency has tripled in size over the past five years, and it’s become more diverse during that time too. (Senior editor Shirley Siluk still remembers being the only woman on the team back in 2015.) So when we talk about diversity – whether internally or publicly – we ask for, and listen to, the perspectives of everyone on our team. What follows is some of our thinking around the best ways to demonstrate what we believe in… while avoiding cringe-worthy lip service or, worse yet, approaching allyship as a marketing opportunity:

  • Sharing helpful links is a great approach – This shows support for diverse groups by providing relevant information that directly benefits those groups. Content executive Zoe McNeill recently offered a good example of this by sharing a post on LinkedIn about coming events from the Intertech LGBT+ Diversity Forum, a grassroots network for LGBT+ professionals and allies in the tech sector.
  • Emphasise show over tell – While it’s great to acknowledge diverse groups and diversity events in thoughtful, sincere and useful ways, we believe that it’s how you work, collaborate, communicate and represent your organisation to the world every day that matters most. Here at Collective Content, this includes making sure that all the people on our team always have opportunities to speak for themselves and share their own unique perspectives. No group is a monolith – within every diverse group, you’ll always find a diversity of opinions, and we welcome that.
  • Don’t “both sides” allyship – Supporting, encouraging and celebrating historically marginalised groups doesn’t require parallel initiatives to support, encourage and celebrate other groups without such histories. Case in point: things like the “Don’t Call Me Karen” events. These kinds of efforts misinterpret what it means to support equity and justice in the workplace and in the wider marketplace. As illustrated in this widely circulated cartoon about the differences between equality, equity and justice, it’s not about making sure everybody has the same sized crate to stand on so they can see over the fence – it’s about making sure everyone has access to equal opportunities.

Here’s how we sum up our perspective: Before your business does anything to observe, note or celebrate an event or occasion centred on diverse groups, it’s wise to take some time and give some thought to what you’re saying. Is it sincere? Is it likely to be welcomed by the audience you’re hoping to make feel supported? Are you showing real allyship? Or are you doing it because everybody else is, because you’re expected to or because you see it as a marketing opportunity? However you answer such questions, your audience will probably be able to quickly determine whether your words and actions are true to your organisation and the people it represents.

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