Moving from an Ally to an Accomplice: How to Support Underrepresented Groups in the Workplace

Many people self-identify as ally to a particular underrepresented group, and that’s always made me uncomfortable. One reason is that I believe that title should be given to you by the group and not self-imposed, and another is that I believe that underrepresented groups need folks to shift from being an ally to an accomplice.

In recent years, the workplace has become more diverse and inclusive, recognizing the importance of providing equal opportunities for all employees. While allies have played a crucial role in advocating for marginalized groups, the time has come to elevate our commitment. To create lasting change and foster an environment where everyone can thrive, one must transition from being an ally to an accomplice.

Let’s explore what it means to be an accomplice and note the actionable steps to support underrepresented groups in the workplace.

Understanding the Shift from Ally to Accomplice

Before we delve into the actionable steps, let’s clarify the difference between being an ally and becoming an accomplice. An ally is someone who supports and advocates for marginalized individuals and their rights. However, an accomplice goes beyond passive support and actively challenges the systemic barriers and prejudices perpetuating inequality. An accomplice is someone who uses their privilege for good; creating a more equitable workplace for everyone.

Educate Yourself

Start by educating yourself on the experiences and challenges underrepresented groups encounter in the workplace. Listen to their stories, read about their struggles, and understand the historical context of discrimination. Seek out resources, books, articles, and documentaries that shed light on the issues faced by these communities. Knowledge is the foundation of genuine empathy and understanding.

Examine Your Privilege

Recognize and acknowledge your own privilege. Privilege comes in various forms, such as race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. Understand how your privilege might have influenced your experiences and opportunities in the workplace. By examining your privilege, you can better empathize with the struggles of others and leverage your advantages to support those who face barriers.

Amplify Underrepresented Voices

One of the essential roles of an accomplice is to amplify the voices of underrepresented individuals. In meetings, discussions, and decision-making processes, actively encourage and promote diverse perspectives. If you notice that someone’s ideas are being overlooked, give credit where it’s due and ensure their contributions are acknowledged. Championing diversity of thought enriches the workplace and drives innovation.

Intervene and Challenge Bias

When you witness discrimination, microaggressions, or biased behavior, don’t remain a passive bystander. Step up and intervene respectfully but assertively. Educate your colleagues about the impact of their words and actions, and encourage them to consider alternative viewpoints. A workplace culture that actively challenges bias fosters a more inclusive environment.

Support ERGs (Employee Resource Groups)

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide a safe space for underrepresented employees to connect, share experiences, and propose initiatives for positive change. Offer your support to these groups by attending their events, participating in discussions, and actively listening to their concerns. If your organization does not have ERGs, consider advocating for their establishment.

Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Be an advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives within your workplace. Encourage leadership to implement unbiased recruitment practices, diverse hiring panels, and inclusive policies. Suggest mentorship and sponsorship programs that support career development for underrepresented employees. Hold your organization accountable for implementing initiatives that will create to a more inclusive and equitable workplace.


Transitioning from an ally to an accomplice requires a deeper level of commitment and active participation in supporting underrepresented groups in the workplace. It involves educating yourself, acknowledging your privilege, and challenging biased behavior. As accomplices, we can foster an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity, empowers marginalized employees, and ultimately benefits the entire organization. By taking these actionable steps, we can create workplaces where everyone feels valued, heard, and empowered to succeed. Together, let’s embrace the responsibility of being accomplices in the pursuit of equality and justice.

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