Viewpoint: on the required level of consciousness for authentic allyship

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Purpose: In this JOCM Viewpoint article, the author reflects on the expectations of some minoritized group members that power holders and otherwise privileged group members should exhibit authentic allyship. Specifically, it is suggested that these expectations are unrealistic given both the challenges of being an ally and the absence in many power holders of the type of consciousness that enables effective allyship. Design/methodology/approach: An analysis of the challenges inherent in allyship as well as the criticism that performative rather than authentic allyship frequently occurs is followed by a review of research on consciousness and the implications of the level of consciousness for generating effective ally behavior. Findings: Different stages of consciousness generate different types of responses to the challenges of allyship, some being more effective than others. Reaching a certain stage of consciousness development may increase the likelihood that the ally will be able to hold space for the emotional well-being of the marginalized and the need for instrumental change, which are both necessary for effective allyship to occur. Without these, an individual’s allyship is likely to be absent or at the most performative. Allyship groups can be helpful in supporting this level of consciousness through their group norms. Originality/value: This viewpoint challenges conventional assumptions that privileged members of society should engage in allyship and suggests only a subset will be able to make the commitment and exhibit the behaviors required of authentic allies.

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Journal of Organizational Change Management