Being a better ally is one way in which white employees can take a stand against racism in the workplace. Allies are people who are not members of an underrepresented group, but who provide support to those who are discriminated against, University of London’s Andre Spicer explains in The Conversation. What actions can people take to become an effective ally to their colleagues and how can they ensure their actions aren’t just performative, but meaningful, helpful and impactful?

In recent interviews, the American soccer player Crystal Dunn expressed the joy and fear she felt when her teammate Megan Rapinoe decided to take a knee against police brutality and racism in 2016. While Dunn wanted to join her teammate she worried “they could rip up [her] contract” and as a result chose not to.

The fact that Rapinoe felt she could take a knee while Dunn could not speaks volumes. The US Soccer Federation did condemn Rapinoe’s kneeling. However, Dunn was worried the repercussion would be worse for her as a black player.

Psychologists have found that when a black person confronts a racist remark they are seen as “rude”, but when a white person does the same they are perceived as “persuasive”. Similarly, when black people pushed for a diversity initiative they were seen as self-interested. While white people who did the same were “objective”. If people of colour and women showed they valued diversity at work, they received worse performance ratings from their boss. However, white men who did the same weren’t punished.

Psychology of being a better ally