Understanding performative allyship – and what your credit union can do about it

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) may be the phrase of the year – and with good reason. After centuries of insidious, systemic, seemly insurmountable racism in the U.S. we’re at a tipping point. People want to see change. Real change! And they want to know what their favorite brands are doing about it. In one word, ACTION is what people want.

While organizations express how they are all about DEI, there’s often not a lot backing up their claims. People notice this. A quick look and its clearly superficial showmanship and empty promises; also known as performative allyship.

Performative allyship is probably something you recognize. It’s the equivalent of a “Love the Earth” bumper sticker on the back of a gas-guzzler. It’s superficial and disingenuous. At its best, performative allyship makes people roll their eyes. At its worst, it dilutes an important conversation and weakens public trust, and it makes the consumer not want to buy what the organization is selling.

But there’s hope. When brands recognize and understand performative allyship, they can avoid it in their policies and actions. This is why it’s essential to have a plan and work with DEI experts to create a thoughtful, intentional DEI strategy – think bigger than posting on your social media channels for Hispanic Heritage Month, having your board and C-suite just come and relate to one lived experience.


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