Allyship in your organisation: performative or permanent?

8 min read | Enterprise Solutions at Hays | Article | DE&I Department and organisation Managing a team Staff engagement

To mark Pride Month across the globe, Enterprise Solutions CEO, Matthew Dickason took the time in his recent ‘Dickason Debrief’ feature to reflect on the important role that allies play in creating an inclusive culture.

‘A culture that encourages people to bring their whole self to work, creating diverse teams that challenge the status quo, encourage new ways of thinking and build a foundation upon which individuals and organisations truly thrive’.

To ensure the continued integration and inclusion of individuals, organisations must pledge their commitment to equity beyond the month of June, ensuring a culture of solidarity and support is ingrained into the fabric of their operations.

Here’s our three top tips for creating an inclusive culture:

Make space for learning

Being an ally means acknowledging privilege and learning how to use this to amplify the voices of others, becoming cognizant of implicit bias and learning how to listen and accept criticism, even when it’s uncomfortable.

For many, this will be a difficult, but necessary journey. Organisations need to support their employees by providing the education needed to understand the difficulties that came before – and the challenges ahead.

In his latest Debrief, Matthew highlighted the importance of shifting from annual training to an ‘upskilling’ approach. Instilling a mindset of continuous learning and development prompts employees to view training as an opportunity for growth, rather than a mandatory ‘tick-box’ exercise.

Holding regular meetings to share lessons learnt and identify areas for improvement also recognises that our approach to allyship must evolve to accommodate changes in society. Although progress has been made, the Hays Helps report shows that there is still plenty more to be done – and an organisation’s understanding and approach to supporting individuals from disadvantaged or minority groups must adapt in line with the most pressing concerns.

Actions speak louder than words

And it’s not always the grand gestures that are needed to create a more inclusive culture.

As part of a #BreakTheBias interview to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2022, a member of the Hays team shared how they had spotted, within the first week of joining Hays, a Pride flag and a poster with a phrase ‘Be a Good Ally’ on a colleague’s desk.

This small act of allyship had an immediate impact, empowering them to feel accepted within their new working environment. The individual now serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Ambassador for the Krakow International Sourcing Centre, alongside their role as an Internal Recruiter.

Organisations must consider the range of digital tools and in-person techniques that could be implemented or adapted to encourage everyone to be a better ally.

This could include:

  • Encouraging the use of pronouns in email signatures, which acknowledge that gender is not a binary concept.
  • Reviewing and removing bias with job descriptions, considering remote working arrangements and showcasing fair interviewing practices in order to build diverse candidate pools.
  • Ensuring both internal and external communications are reflective of the diversity within your organisation.
  • Creating support networks with a friendly figurehead and a regular calendar of publicised and engaging events to reduce isolation.

Empower your people to speak up

Allyship is not a matter of tolerance or ‘quiet support.’ Allies must be able to give their support as acts of indirect and direct discrimination occur.

To foster the ‘see something, say something’ culture that is vital in ensuring individuals from minority groups feel supported, organisations should ensure that all employees - regardless of seniority - have the knowledge, understanding and conviction to call out inappropriate language, behaviour or intent.

Complementing this psychological safety net must be formal processes that permit swift and confidential reporting. Frequent (and crucially, anonymous) ‘pulse’ surveys also offer an insight into attitudes and perceptions across the company, flagging issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Some companies have also incorporated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion related goals and KPIs into performance reviews. By evaluating people on their efforts to improve diversity within the organisation, individuals are held accountable in actively challenging the status quo.

Rafeal Rozenson, CEO at Vieve Protein Water, adds that building Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity in a performance review shifts the discussion from ‘something nebulous’, and indicates to your team in a concrete way that it’s a priority ‘for everyone, all the time.’

Make allyship a priority

Encouraging allyship amongst your teams isn’t just beneficial for your ESG record, it also makes good business sense. Research by the Harvard Business Review indicated that people who have at least one ally in the workplace are nearly twice as likely to be satisfied in their role and feel like they belong.

By ingraining allyship into operations, organisations create psychologically safe workplaces, resulting in a lower turnover of staff, increased productivity and a happier workforce.

How will your organisation promote allyship? Find out how we can build an inclusive culture, together.

About this author

Enterprise Solutions at Hays

At Hays, we invest in lifelong partnerships that empower people and businesses to succeed. We’re a future-focused, customer-centric organisation equipped with the skills, solutions and technological capabilities of a true leadership partner, to better meet your workforce needs and solve the complex challenges you face today, tomorrow and in the future.

  • Strategically located delivery centres and 250+ offices across the globe, offering the flexibility and diversity of people that will be central to your success.
  • Thousands of experts equipped with the insights and understanding to stay a step ahead of market trends and solve your business challenges.
  • Over 50 years of building progressive workforce strategies to support your strategic goals.

We’re always learning, always one step ahead, and always working for your tomorrow.

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