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The Ally Lab

On this page

What is an ally?

A diversity, inclusion and belonging "ally" is someone who is willing to take action in support of another person, in order to remove barriers that impede that person from contributing their skills and talents in the workplace or community.

Being an ally is a verb, this means that you proactively and purposefully take action and is not something forced upon you.

How to be an ally

It is not required to be an ally to work at GitLab. At GitLab it is required to be inclusive.

Being an ally goes a step beyond being inclusive to taking action to support marginalized groups. The first step in being an ally is self-educating.

This ally lab will provide you with some of the tools, resources and learning activities to help you grow as an ally.

Skills and Behaviours of allies

To be an effective ally it is important to understand some of the skills and behaviours great allies exhibit.

What it means to be an ally

Concepts & Terms

  1. Privilege: an unearned advantage given to some people but not all
  2. Oppression: systemic inequality present throughout society that benefits people with more privilege and is a disadvantage to those with fewer privileges
  3. Ally: a member of a social group that has some privilege, that is working to end oppression and understands their own privilege
  4. Power: The ability to control circumstances or access to resources and/or privileges
  5. Marginalized groups: a person or group that are treated as unimportant, insignificant or of lower status. In a workplace setting, employees could be treated as invisible, as if they aren't there or their skills or talents are unwelcome or unnecessary
  6. Performative allyship: referring to allyship that is done to increase a person's social capital rather than because of a person's devotion to a cause. For example some people used #metoo during the Me Too movement, without actually bringing more awareness or trying to effect change.

Tips on being an ally

  1. Identifying your power and privilege helps you act as an ally more effectively
  2. Follow and support those as much as possible from marginalized groups
  3. When you make a mistake, apologize, correct yourself, and move on
  4. Allies spend time educating themselves and use the knowledge to help
  5. Allies take the time to think and analyze the situation
  6. Allies try to understand Perception vs. Reality
  7. Allies don’t stop with their power they also leverage others powers of authority

See our Ally Resources Page for more resources on being an ally.

Allyship & Empathy

Being an Ally Requires Empathy

Responding with Empathy

What to say, when you don’t know what to say:

Boot and Sandal Methophor

Imagine you are wearing a heavy boot (represents privilege) and you are stepping on someone’s foot that is only wearing sandals (represents oppression). If someone says, “Ouch, you are stepping on my toes!” How do you react?

Problems with common responses to mistakes become obvious:

Instead, you would respond with the following:

Improve allyship skills by following the three C's

How diversity shows up on teams


Areas you can show allyship

Recruiting & Hiring

Guidance & Support

Difficult Conversations

Growth & Career Development

Examples of Allyship at Gitlab


Ally Lab Learning Group

The Ally Lab Learning Group is an initiative to learn to become or be a better ally within a collaborative group of peers who are seeking the same aim of allyship growth. All team members have the ability to be an ally whether you are a part of an underrepresented group (URG) or not, there are URGs that may not belong to and you have the ability to be an ally to them. There will be regular intakes of team members into groups.

The next intake: You can sign up here

To sign up: TBC

The Group:

What you will need:

What you will do:

  1. Session 1: Async ally training and courses. Synchronous meeting to discuss what you have learned.
    1. Equality Ally Strategies
    2. Cultivate Equality at Work
    3. Communicating with Empathy
    4. Effective Listening
    5. Building Trust
    6. The importance of trust
    7. How to engage meaningfully in allyship and anti-racism - OPTIONAL
    8. Inclusive mindset of committed allies - OPTIONAL
  2. Session 2: The importance of being an ally and why you want to be an ally.
  3. Session 3: Work as a group to discuss a number of scenarios and how to tackle them as an ally.
  4. Session 4: Together, write a commitment to allyship and the values you will abide by to be an ally.
    1. In the last session you will decide as a group a short commitment statement that should be shared on the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Sharing Page. Think about what you have individually and collectively learnt during the experience.

Create 2-5 values that, as a group, you will hold in your continuous learning in allyship and take into account when situations arise.

Once completed you now have a safe group to discuss allyship with, either to get advice, hold yourself accountable to or run through a situation. Things you can do post the 4 week ALLG:

Ally Training

We held a 50 minute Live Learning Ally Training on 2020-01-28. The recording follows along with the slide deck and agenda.

Being an Ally Knowledge Assessment

Anyone can become certified in GitLab Ally Training. To obtain certification, you will need to complete this Being an Ally knowledge assessment and earn at least an 80%. Once the quiz has been passed, you will receive an email with your certification that you can share on your personal LinkedIn or Twitter pages. If you have questions, please reach out to our L&D team at

External Ally Training

There are some essential skills that are required to be an ally, here are a number of trainings that will help you enhance your allyship skills. Some of these are not allyship specific but will sharpen your skills in those important areas.

Equality Ally Strategies Champion Workplace Equality Effective Listening How to engage meaningfully in Allyship Becoming a true ally Building Trust Why trust matters

Ally Learning Activity and Scenarios

GitLab Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging resources

Allies familiarize themselves with GitLab's general DIB content

Ally Resources

Here are additional resources on being an ally

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