Allyship in Action: Small Actions, Big Impacts
Inclusive is one of Oaklin’s four values. Inclusion and diversity rightly remain central to our culture, and we have recently focused our attention to allyship. We discuss good allyship behaviours, and our approach to tackling microaggressions in and outside of the workplace.
“I am an ally because it aligns with a personal value of being a good person and treating others as I want to be treated”
Pride month is a reminder of the huge strides made in LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion in the UK. Without allies, the likes of Jill Nalder who is known for her significant support to the LGBTQ+ community during the HIV/AIDs epidemic of the 1980’s, this would not have been possible. She asked the tough questions in search for answers during a time in which same sex relationships were not widely accepted in the UK. Later, she would go on to set to up the charity West End Cares, which raised over £2m in the late 80’s. She was and remains the epitome of an ally.
Inclusive is one of Oaklin’s four values. Inclusion and diversity rightly remain central to our culture, and we have recently focused our attention to allyship. Regular and open conversation and sharing of challenging experiences, are a way of giving our employees the tools and knowledge required to become allies of inclusion.
Over 3 months, we ran group sessions to demonstrate what good allyship looks like using real life examples. We also gave the individuals the opportunity to share their experiences with microaggressions. These are indirect, subtle, or unintentional acts of discrimination, from the brief annoyance when someone assumes you have a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend, to the surprise of being told you look like an air hostess by your client. Our “what happens in the group, stays in the group” approach allowed us to openly discuss our personal experiences, and offer practical actions to each other to avoid and respond better to microaggressions in the future.
We touched on several microaggressions and broader inclusion topics including:
- Gender based assumptions, and how they often unfairly inform workplace roles and responsibilities.
- Age and appearance-based comments, and how they can detract from competence.
- Simple measures that can keep people safe in the workplace and in social settings.
- How to include individuals with neurodiverse conditions in workshops and meetings.
- The use of LGBTQ+ terminology and gender-neutral language.
With awareness and a bit of habit forming, microaggressions and their impacts can easily be avoided. To help our group to adopt our learnings, we asked individuals to write their motivations for being an ally and put them somewhere visible. Some wrote them inside their notepads, others on desktops, but having that regular reminder is crucial in keeping allyship front of mind.
Here are just a few of our group's allyship motivations:
I am an ally because:
- “…it aligns with a personal value of being a good person and treating others as I want to be treated”.
- “…I want to ensure that people don’t experience the anxieties and stresses of not bringing their whole selves to work”.
- “…I want to educate myself and understand others’ perspective and points of view so I can be a better human being”.
- “…I want to provide support for the normally ‘unheard’”.
There are everyday actions we can all take that have an enormous impact. It is ok to make mistakes but sharing your experiences (good and bad) can help others learn and prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Allyship is about being the best person you can be, by showing empathy and responding to inappropriate behaviour.
Although we only celebrate pride for a month in the UK, it is not a one-off event that ends on the 30th of June. By taking small, and intentional actions and forming positive habits, we can all become better allies, and play our part in advancing the culture of inclusion.
Josh is a consultant with over 6 years’ experience working with clients to define, shape and drive the delivery of transformation portfolios and programmes. He also uses his delivery experience and insight to mature client delivery capabilities, in particularly within portfolio management. He has worked across a range of sectors, including financial services, energy and utilities and the public sector.