Work Relationships

3 must-watch TED Talks to improve your allyship

A photo of a diverse group of friends
Written by Eric Titner

When it comes to navigating the modern workplace, you need to make sure you know what it takes to be successful. Across most industries and roles, today’s work world seems drastically different from what it was just a few years ago. As things continue to evolve and the effects of new technological innovation alongside constantly shifting social, cultural, and economic forces take hold, our work lives will inevitably be subject to further change—hopefully for the better.

That said, despite all the workplace volatility and uncertainty, there are some tried and true strategies to help you secure and improve your work life. Chief among them is to be a stronger ally to everyone within your work orbit—regardless of rank, role, or responsibility. Although what makes a good ally can vary depending on one’s perspective and experience, at its core it means being a proactive participant and advocate when it comes to recognizing privilege; acknowledging, respecting, and appreciating the wealth of diversity to be encountered in the world; and acting as an agent for healthy and progressive change, especially for those who are marginalized and underrepresented.

Being a good ally is certainly not a new concept, but it’s been gaining increasing attention and focus in recent years as everyone from high-powered C-suite executives to support staff in companies both large and small recognize the importance and value of supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity—both in the office and beyond.

Simply put, it’s a great investment of time, energy, and resources to help improve allyship—both across a business and as a personal goal. The good news is that there are a wealth of tools available out there to help you achieve this worthy goal, many of which are accessible online. These include TED Talks, which are a series of presentations given by some of the world’s most influential, successful, and innovative thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents. These talks span a wide range of topics, including allyship, and are well worth your time to investigate. The following 3 TED talks highlight the tremendous wealth of knowledge and insight available on the subject, to help you learn, improve, and grow.

Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?

Mellody Hobson, a financial world luminary who’s currently the president of Ariel Investments, a money management firm focused on value-driven goals, is also a key thought leader when it comes to issues of race and promoting diversity in the workplace. Her TED talk focuses on this critical issue. Although previously thought of as a “conversational third rail” in the office, Hobson advocates for opening the lines of communication and speaking openly about race as we strive to move towards a better and more inclusive and equitable work world and society.

Nita Mosby Tyler: Want a more just world? Be an unlikely ally.

Dr. Tyler is a well-recognized expert when it comes to advocating for and promoting diversity and equity. She’s the Chief Catalyst and founder of The Equity Project and is committed to helping organizations and communities develop effective inclusion strategies. Dr. Tyler’s TED talk draws on her powerful personal experience to make the point that creating a fairer and more equitable world requires each of us to acknowledge our responsibility for taking part in making this happen, by being active change agents and allies who fight for others who face injustice in all forms.

Jennifer L. Eberhardt: How racial bias works—and how to disrupt it.

Jennifer Eberhardt is an accomplished social psychologist whose research focuses on race and equality. Her work investigates the negative effects of racial bias and how racial imagery and judgments shape behavior and outcomes across society, including the criminal justice system and the various social spaces we inhabit. Her TED presentation leverages her extensive body of research and published work to demonstrate how our brains categorize incoming stimuli to organize and make sense of the world, and how this invariably leads to unconscious bias. Her talk focuses on how these biases unfairly impact the lives of Black people at every societal level and serves as a powerful call to action to actively disrupt this from happening whenever possible.

Being a proactive ally in the struggle for positive change is a responsibility we all share to help move society forward, and the TED talks mentioned here can help guide you in the right direction.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.