Learning to Be Better Allies

By: Tammy Mata, Valley's Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Library | 5/24/2021

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Understanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Terms 

Simply put, a common or shared understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) terms helps us to communicate better.  When we know the meanings of these terms and how they operate in our society, we can empathize with people whose experiences and perspectives are different than our own. This understanding can create better relationships with our colleagues which leads to innovation and growth.


At Valley, we strongly encourage learning and development, both at a personal and professional level. In that vein, we provide multiple opportunities to learn new concepts in various formats. For example, our Management Matters platform includes courses, books and articles that associates can use to enhance their leadership skills. We also launched a DEI Intranet Page which includes information on what associates can do to support DEI, a resource library and information on our Associate Resource Group Program. Finally, associates should take full advantage of Valley’s Innovation Page, which includes information on participating in workshops, like Design Thinking, and resources on innovation, listening, being open to different perspectives and collaboration. The more time we spend understanding the perspectives of our friends and coworkers, the more we have to offer as allies. 


Stepping into the role of ally  

Across the board, allies play an important role in our working environments. If you're looking for the best place to start as an ally, it's as simple as learning and being open to new ideas and experiences. You can also join an Associate Resource Group (ARG), attend a Design Thinking workshop or take courses on our learning platform. There are a number of options available.The key is to be constantly learning!


   Below is a listing of diversity, equity and inclusion terms to get you started. 

  • Diversity - The term diversity encompasses the many differences that make each of us unique.  A diverse workforce is made up of people of varying gender, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical ability, cultural backgrounds, education and perspectives.

  • Inclusion - Inclusion is not the same as diversity.  Inclusion in the workplace exists where all employees are treated respectfully and can fully contribute to the company’s success.

  • Equity - Equity in the workplace exists where the “norms,” fundamentals, and policies ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities.

  • Equality - The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

  • Belonging - Belonging is the feeling of being seen, accepted and included by your teammates and coworkers (regardless of their titles or status).

  • Ally - An ally is someone who is not a member of a marginalized or underrepresented group and who takes action to support that group.  Simply put, allies stand with and/or advocate for individuals and groups other than their own.

  • Allyship - The intentional and consistent practice of supporting members of marginalized or mistreated groups to which one does not belong.

  • Bias - A partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.

  • Unconscious (Implicit) Bias - Unconscious or Implicit Bias refers to the brain’s automatic, instant association of stereotypes or attitudes towards particular groups, without our conscious awareness.

  • Stereotype - A stereotype is an exaggerated belief, image, distorted truth, or generalization about a person or group that allows for minimal or no individual differences or social variation.

  • Prejudice - An opinion, prejudgment or attitude about a group or its individual members.

  • Discrimination - The unjust, unequal or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, for example, on the grounds of race, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex.  Discrimination can range from slights to hate crimes and often begins with negative stereotypes and prejudices.

  • Microaggression - Microaggressions are subtle, everyday slights, comments and/or behaviors that communicate bias towards an individual’s difference or otherwise marginalizes the individual from the group. Unlike overt discrimination, people who commit microaggressions may not be aware of them.


What’s the Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion?

What’s the Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion?

Here are some tips to help you understand diversity and inclusion in a corporate setting.