Monday 30 March 2009

Allies and Advocates

A few years ago I attended an amazing week-long course called Development for Black and Minority Ethnic Managers (aaah how I miss the small joys of the civil service). One of the facilitators was an incredibly charismatic lady called Lennie Egboma who introduced me to the idea of “Allies and Advocates”.

This is the idea that we meet with like minded people and assist each other in our chosen areas of career or interest by passing on information or contacts. The idea is a bit like networking, but taken a step further and it doesn’t just apply to work or career development.

So for example, when I got back from the seminar, I invited a group of women from my office to meet for lunch and discuss how we can help each other progress. This led to a whole hour of women complaining about how we are held back by racism and how positive thinking will not get us anywhere. It was good to get the whinging out of the way, it meant we could get and take action. We took details of each others qualifications and what we were looking for and shared our resources (vacancies we found, websites, contacts we knew) and inspired each other. Within six months all of us had moved to new jobs.

It taught me the real meaning of team-work, sharing and the benefits of networking. It also illustrated to me the way that people can resist helping each other due to an irrational fear that there is not enough out there for everyone. I had to convince people that sharing resources did not mean less for them but more for everyone (what is called the abundance mentality).

Yesterday, whilst clearing out some papers I came across my old green Allies and Advocate’s book. It made me think about how we already do this work through our communities: passing a vacancy to someone looking for work, telling someone in need about a friend with a room,

A wonderful example I have come across in the blogging world is on Sister Farhana’s and Umm Lazeena’s blogs about a community of new Muslim’s in Columbia who need assistance. Both of these sisters have passed the message on and bloggers are responding and passing this onto others that can help insh’Allah (hint hint – please do go on over and see what you can do).

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to dust my green book off and start working with the abundance mentality again – what can you do for others? What contacts do you have in the world of work, trade and community work? What services, products and opportunities are you aware of that can be passed on? Who are your Allies and Advocates?

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