Being an ally doesn’t mean sitting on the sidelines waiting to be called up, being an ally means becoming aware of your privilege and the diversity of experiences in our world, and using your knowledge to advocate for others. In order to effectively stand up for underrepresented and marginalized groups, allies have to put in the work through continued self-education and sponsorship.
If you’ve landed on this article, good chances are that ally is you. We’ve collected words of wisdom from diversity, equity, and inclusion thought leaders to help you expand and deepen your knowledge of privilege, discrimination, and equality.
Here are 9 TED Talks that will make you a better ally
1. Janet Stovall: How to Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
In 2020, InHerSight added “Sense of Belonging” to the range of key metrics women can use to rate companies they’ve worked for. In this TED Talk, inclusion advocate and speechwriter Janet Stovall expands on the idea, offers a three-part action plan for creating workplaces where people feel safe to be their authentic selves, and explains how these diversity and inclusion efforts help people of all colors and races to climb the corporate ladder.
2. Nita Mosby Tyler: Want a More Just World? Be An Unlikely Ally
Equity advocate Nita Mosby Taylor grew up in the South, in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. From her own experiences, she speaks on why inequality surpasses our own lived experiences and how equality requires “unlikely allies.” When we use our voices to stand up and speak out on issues that we think don’t immediately involve us, we inspire others to do the same.
3. Elise Roy: When We Design for Disability, We All Benefit
At the age of 10, Elise Roy was told she would lose her hearing. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she now knows that being deaf has given her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world. Roy gives a poignant talk on design thinking, a process for innovation and problem solving that helps find more inclusive solutions to common problems. She says, “The energy it takes to accommodate someone with a disability can be leveraged, molded, and played with as a force for creativity and innovation.”
4. Jennifer L. Eberhardt: How Racial Bias Works — And How to Disrupt It
In one of the most popular TED Talks of 2020, Stanford University Professor Jennifer L. Eberhardt discusses how unconscious biases unfairly target Black people at all levels of society and explores how to address the issue. Until we pause and reflect on our own beliefs and assumptions, racial bias will continue to blind us and hinder true allyship.
5. Gloria Steinem: To Future Generations of Women, You Are the Roots of Change
Gloria Steinem is undoubtedly a trailblazing icon of the global feminist movement. In this talk with TEDWomen Curator Pat Mitchell, Steinem explores feminism, intersectionality, and overcoming fears. Watch this talk to learn more on how to advocate for other women and be an ally through solidarity, companionship, and community.
Read more: 37 Quotes About Resilience from Women—Mostly
6. Melinda Epler: 3 Ways to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace
Writer and advocate Melina Epler shares three actionable ways to support people who are underrepresented in the workplace in this TED Talk. Epler elaborates on how gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexual orientation are just a few of the factors that affect our experiences, and it's up to all of us to be allies for those who face discrimination.
7. Rosalind G. Brewer: How to Foster True Diversity and Inclusion at Work (And In Your Community)
Starbucks COO Rosalind G. Brewer says, “I think we have spent more time trying to reach numbers than we have changing our environment where people feel safe, where they feel they can come to work and be their whole self...So I think there's so much opportunity in the inclusion space, because we focus too much on meeting metrics.” In her TED Talk on diversity and inclusion, Brewer invites leaders to rethink what it takes to create a truly inclusive workplace and lays out how to bring lasting change to boardrooms past meeting quotas.
Read more: What Is Inclusion in the Workplace?
8. Micah Eames: How to Come Out at Work, About Anything
Writer and trans rights advocate Micah Eames was the first person to come out as trans at his place of work. Speaking from personal experience, Eames offers advice for people on both sides—those coming out at work and those listening to a colleague coming out. Whichever side of the conversation you’re on, listen to Eames’ talk on how you can open up about your identity at work and what your colleagues can do to help and be an active ally.
9. Ashton Applewhite: Let’s End Ageism
Viewed more than 1.6 million times, this TED Talk by author and activist Ashton Applewhite discusses the prejudices and stereotypes that are born out of ageism. In the workplace, ageism occurs all too often, hindering productivity at companies since age is a criterion for diversity (and we know diverse companies perform better). Applewhite argues a powerful point: “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured. It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all."
Read more: 6 Examples of Ageism Hiding in Plain Sight