White Men and Women as Allies

Webinar Recap: White Men and Women as Allies

Moderator: Anita Ricketts, Chief of Staff at DiversityInc

Panelists: Scott Cirillo, Accenture’s HR Business Partner; Jane Palmieri, Dow’s Business President, Industrial Intermediates and Infrastructure; Kevin Muskat, EY’s West Region Advanced Mfg & Mobility SaT Market Segment Lead; Melissa Hill, Sanofi’s Head of Sanofi Genzyme U.S. Neurology; and John Stotler, Wells Fargo‘s Business Functional Manager.


During DiversityInc’s June 10 webinar, “White Men and Women as Allies,” DiversityInc’s Anita Ricketts spoke with leading executives from Accenture, Dow, EY, Sanofi and Wells Fargo about the importance and value of white allies for people of color and other minorities within the corporate workplace. 


To view the event slides, click HERE



Key webinar thoughts, takeaways and highlights:


On how allyship has changed since the summer of 2020:

“After everything we’ve seen in the last year and a half, you have to ask yourself the question: have I actively done enough as an ally? I don’t think I’d give myself as good of a grade as I once might have, because I think now it’s no longer enough just to be supportive and engaged. It’s gone from passive to active. I really think that’s the future of allyship for me. It’s about doing — it’s not about how you feel or just being an ally.” — Jane Palmieri


“If there was any sort of silver lining to last year, it was the fact that it brought more attention within our company to our Black professional network and other diversity groups. Everything was just accelerated so much. Budgets were opened and ears were opened, education increased. So, to Jane’s point, a lot of it did turn to action, and we didn’t want to miss that opportunity. And I still think we have that opportunity even a year or so out, and very many years into the future.” — Kevin Muskat


“I echo the comments from Jane and Kevin. Last year took us to a place where we want to be more intentional in terms of the actions that we’re taking. And just really focused on truly making a difference. There’s the saying that actions speak louder than words, right? It’s not just about speaking things; it’s about seeing those results and being very visible in the marketplace in terms of some of the goals and objectives that we had set as a firm. That’s what it did for us as a company. And personally, I would add that it also impacted me by making me feel more comfortable standing up for and supporting the things I believe in, such as Black Lives Matter, which I may not have always been as comfortable to do before.” — Scott Cirillo


On the accountability and responsibility that comes with being an ally:

“I think we need to share loudly and proudly that we are ambassadors for other groups. I like to share very broadly who I’m mentoring, as much as what I’m getting out of those conversations. Let people know that they have groups available to turn to. I believe that we should be shouting it from the rooftops at this point, that we are ambassadors to support everyone.” — Melissa Hill


“I think it becomes more imperative for us to share our journeys as an ally, the experiences we have had and also the education we get. Some of the things that I have learned over the past year that have impacted the Black and African American community over history that have shocked me — things that I didn’t know for one reason or another. And being able to then take that information and share it with other people that look like me has been very important and powerful for me.” — John Stotler


On the things allies should keep in mind when building trust and relationships with others they want to support:

“Allyship is not a gift. I mean, it’s not something you just say, ‘I’m an ally.’ You have to earn it. And there are different levels of allyship — nobody should be scared about jumping in. So, dive in, be accountable, take action and take it on as a challenge and move forward. But also remember that just because you say you’re an ally does not mean you’re an ally. Expect there to be skepticism. This is a population of people that have been somewhat oppressed for 400 years, there is going to be skepticism and there’s a lot of ‘fake allies’ out there.” — Muskat


“It’s very trendy and chic right now to be an ally. But it’s not about wearing a badge of honor, it’s about doing the work. That’s the hard part. There are a lot of people out there right now that are maybe over the top with their allyship. And I’m not questioning everybody’s motives, but really, I think it’s about authenticity. In order to build that trust, you have to be authentic in your actions. You have to be vulnerable; you have to share why you believe what you believe; and why you’re there to help. One of the ways to do that is just being open and transparent with people about what inspires you to take these actions, as opposed to thinking something like ‘I want it to look good on my profile.’ Authenticity is vitally important and will help to really build that trust.” — Palmieri


On how being an ally can impact leadership style and the work individuals do within their company:

“I think it’s caused me to just slow down a bit. As a leader in any organization, people are watching and paying attention to you and what you do. I think that can be very inspiring to people, but I think it’s made me slow down a little bit and be very mindful of my words and actions so that they are believed — so that they are thoughtful and honest. I also try to let people know this is a journey, so don’t be afraid to jump in and just get your toes wet.” — Hill


“Two words that come to me are vulnerability and authenticity. And I think having those two skills can take you a long way as a leader. Just being able to listen, observe, understand, try to understand where people are and where are they coming from? What are their experiences? What makes somebody who they are and how they are in the workplace or wherever it is? This applies outside of the workplace as well. Just trying to have some empathy for what people may have gone through. I hear lots of stories from people of color about experiences they’ve had. I know not everybody who is a person of color has gone through that experience, but if I go into something with somebody thinking, well, maybe they have had similar experiences, the empathy can help me understand and just listen to their experience.” — Stotler


“In terms of my own leadership style, I think being an ally has helped me to think about how I can use my influence to help drive other improvements, whether it’s in processes or decisions that are made. By being more educated, being an ally, hearing the stories of things that have happened, I now have a position where I can potentially help make a change. And that’s something that has driven me to say, look, there’s an opportunity here, let’s rethink how we approach performance management, recruiting or our staffing process, for example, to make sure it’s equitable and fair across the board.” — Cirillo


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