The importance of allyship by CMS Partner Anna Ralston-Crane

News / 30.06.2023

I consider myself an ally.

I think most of us do. It’s hard to think who is voluntarily going to say “no, I’m not in favour of equity and equality for all people irrespective of gender, race, sexuality or socio-economic background”.    

I also have a lot of privilege (which is just a fact, not a judgment) – the only characteristic that I have that “puts me in the room” from a D&I perspective is gender. That means that there are lots of people with different characteristics and lots of different communities that I could be an ally to.

So, as part of my involvement with our D&I strategy for Real Estate, I’ve been trying to actively think about whether I am, in fact, an ally - or “just” someone with good intentions.

CMS hosted a recent event for Freehold about allyship in the LGBTQ+ community. There was a panel discussion where five different people offered their insight about how to be a (better) ally.

I learnt loads.

There were lots of things that felt perhaps more ethereal until the right situation arises. 

Such as: be vulnerable with others as that engenders trust and allows people to open up and be their authentic selves. 

Or: don’t let the little comments slide, you never know who is listening.  

Or: being an ally is learning, unlearning, relearning all the time. That feels exhausting but it’s actually really invigorating once you’ve gotten over the fear of feeling like a constant beginner.

However, in terms of something concrete that everyone (who considers themselves an ally) can do - the recurring theme was: show up.

Attend events that aren’t designed for “your minority characteristic”.  

So for me, I’m not really being an ally by going to gender equality events. I need to actively “put myself in the room” for other inclusion groups and learn

One of the biggest causes of fatigue (again, I learnt this at the Freehold event) is having to educate others with a different lived experience. So one of the easiest things a would-be-ally can do is take advantage of the teaching that is often laid out for us, by going to the events.

As with all things DE&I, there is no one size fits all and allyship is definitely no different. But for somewhere concrete and tangible to start, then finding at least a couple of events a year where you can show up for a community, which you do not identify as being part of, would be a really great start.

Anna Ralston-Crane is a partner at CMS and this article originally appeared in the Allyship edition of their D&I newsletter.