Workplace allies are really important to help create an inclusive culture….
Several years ago a large public sector organisation were looking to create senior sponsors for their staff network groups. A lesbian friend of mine was working at this organisation at the time and, as is so often the case, she was approached by the organisation’s EDI team to be the senior sponsor for the LGBT staff network group.
My friend told the EDI team that she didn’t want to be the ‘flag bearer’ for the LGBT group and instead suggested that they recruit an ally, explaining that whilst she would be an active member of the group there could be a greater value in having an ally as the senior sponsor. Her view was, and still is, that whilst alone we are amazing, together we are even better!
My friend was proven to be right, the organisation went on to recruit a straight senior sponsor who willingly jumped into the role and together they achieved great things.
A while later I asked the senior leader who had taken on the senior sponsorship role about what they had done to be such a successful ally. They explained that they key had been about listening. They said that developing as an ally was a skill that didn’t happen overnight; they had engaged in open conversations, had asked questions and had participated in reverse mentoring through which they had gained a recognition of their own biases and blind spots.
As they explained, being a successful LGBT ally didn’t require them to know all the Pet Shop Boys back catalogue – it simply required them to care, to listen and to learn.
Organisations committed to inclusivity should never underestimate the power of their workplace allies.
Whilst alone we are amazing, together we are even better.
Positive About Inclusion can support your organisation to harness the power of the passionate people who work within it.