In honor of Pride Month, organizations nationwide are reflecting on how to make their workplaces an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees through programs, events, and activities. These initiatives are important to help increase visibility and show that an organization is invested in its employees’ sense of belonging.
But true allyship is rooted in action inside and outside of the workplace – not just for a month, but forever.
Allies are people who recognize their privilege and use that privilege to uplift, defend, and support others. True allyship in the workplace leads to psychological safety and a greater sense of belonging among historically underrepresented employees, which can lead to a 50% lower risk of turnover and a 56% higher level of overall performance.
For company leaders who want to foster a culture of belonging and make sure team members feel comfortable showing up as their true selves, we listed 5 ways your organization can turn allyship into action.
When we talk about identity in the workplace, we have to recognize that identities intersect. A person can be queer, a woman, and Asian American, for example. This means that even when a group comes together with a shared identity, each person has unique lived experiences because of intersectionality.
Understanding intersectional identities is essential to creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace.
Let’s look at ERGs for example. If you have a Black ERG, Women’s ERG, and LGBTQ+ ERG, there is an amazing opportunity for these groups to come together and strengthen an individual’s sense of belonging if they see themselves in all three communities. When groups operate in silos, people may feel like they have to choose a part of their identity in order to belong, instead of showing up as their whole self.
To learn more about exploring identity and belonging in the workplace, watch my LinkedIn Live Show with Jesse Gutierrez, Upwork Belonging Community Manager.
Company leaders can use their power and influence at an organization to share their identity and encourage others to do the same. This may look like sharing your pronouns when in a group setting, or opening up about a time you didn’t feel a sense of belonging in a work environment.
If you’re in a safe space where you feel like you can be vulnerable, this will instill trust in other employees. And when team members see themselves in senior leadership roles, they’re more likely to feel a sense of belonging.
Whether you’re an executive leader, manager, ERG leader, or individual contributor at an organization, there is always an opportunity to ask team members: How can we make this a safe space for you? Do you feel like you can be your true self at work? Do you feel a sense of belonging?
Whether these questions are asked in a group setting, 1:1 meeting, or in anonymous surveys, it’s important to be an active listener and remain open to feedback. If you’re driving DEI initiatives, you’ll learn to embrace what’s uncomfortable to hear and use your privilege to help those who aren’t given the same freedom and opportunities you have.
Don’t place the burden of education on historically underrepresented employees. They may not feel comfortable sharing traumatic experiences, and putting together a curriculum on DEI is oftentimes outside of their job description.
Allies must take the initiative to seek out books, articles, videos, or podcasts created by people from different communities. Company leaders can bring in outside DEI experts to facilitate workshops for employees at all levels. No matter what education looks like to an individual, it must be a continuous effort. As you learn and grow, you will begin to uncover biases you never knew existed, and can then work on implementing change.
Asking questions and learning about other people’s experiences isn’t enough. Allies make sure that the voices of underrepresented groups are heard. They’re vocal in their support and call out harmful and offensive language and behaviors. They recommend people who are often overlooked for more opportunities, give others credit for their ideas, and invite people who are sometimes left out of meetings to have a seat at the table.
Watch my LinkedIn Live Show with Jess Hall, Senior Brand Manager at Red Ventures and Women’s ERG Leader, to learn more about the responsibility of white women as allies in the workplace.
Our team has partnered with amazing organizations across the country to conduct company-wide trainings on how employees can be authentic allies in the workplace.
During this session, team members at all levels learn how to:
• Identify their privilege
• Call out offensive behavior and microaggressions
• Check their biases
• Advocate for historically underrepresented groups
• Make sure their allyship is rooted in action
• Seek out educational resources to continue learning
• Use our iterative POSI framework for self-examination
If your organization is interested in working with Perfeqta to conduct a company-wide allyship training, get in touch with our team here.
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