30 May 2022
Nearly half of LGBTQ+ workers say they hide who they are at work due to discrimination.
To stop prejudice, harassment and bias turning our workplaces’ toxic, every individual must take responsibility for creating an inclusive working culture where every identity is valued.
Research shows employees – regardless of identity - are happier, healthier and more engaged in workplaces that are inclusive, while companies perform better and achieve greater financial results.
We’ve listed five ways individuals and organisations can build an inclusive environment and embrace a thriving culture of allyship.
In the workplace, allies use their own advantages to challenge exclusion and practices that marginalise colleagues.
An ally can be from any demographic, background, or identity, but psychological research suggests there are several key stages allies must move through:
Allyship is a key part of MindGym’s science-based DE&I approach and employees who have strong allies at work are 65% more likely to be happy with their job and 40% less likely to feel burned out.
Also, it creates stronger employee relationships, undermines discrimination, and builds a more positive atmosphere at work.
Research shows that when allies pay lip service without the action to match, their well-intended actions do more harm than good.
Unfortunately, performative allies may act over their guilt or desire to improve their reputation, rather than to show solidarity to others.
This can hurt inclusion efforts - compounding the challenges faced by under-represented groups, and drowning out their voices.
Whatever division and distrust were already present in an organisation, will get worse – dampening productivity, morale, and retention.
Continually educate yourself on inclusion
The journey to becoming a more inclusive person, professional and leader involves a continuous learning process, and no one is expected to be perfect.
Fortunately, whether you want to know about LGBTQ+, race, gender or other DE&I issues, there are an abundance of articles, videos, books and, even, our free whitepaper to study.
And as you progress, you can exchange knowledge and resources with others to foster a learning-rich culture.
Listen, and seek to build trust
If someone does decide to open to you about workplace discrimination, try to be supportive.
By listening to their experiences and engaging in an empathetic conversation, employees can build valuable trust and understanding.
A study found that allies are more appreciated after they have built trust by understanding the issues faced, acting selflessly, making sacrifices for the group, and remaining loyal to that group over time.
Seek to improve your own judgement
If you’ve already taken unconscious bias training, you’ll know that stereotypes and biases can influence our thinking.
The key is to mitigate these biases and adopt new habits, nudges and cues that help you make more inclusive decisions.
This can include; giving everyone a chance to contribute to team projects and meetings and using gender-neutral language to avoid word choices which may be interpreted as biased, discriminatory, or demeaning.
Learn the workplace policy on discrimination and inappropriate behaviour, and how to report incidences to managers and human resources.
People who have experienced discrimination may not feel comfortable reporting incidents themselves for fear of risking their job security.
Rather than be a passive bystander, good allies take the approach that ‘inclusion starts with me.’
Recognise your own privilege and step back when needed
It’s crucial for allies to stand in solidarity without taking the space and voice of others.
Create virtual and in-person safe spaces, listen intently and platform people from different identities and backgrounds, when appropriate and possible.
Open forums, surveys, employee resources groups are just a few examples of tactics companies have used, but it’s key that the voices of under-represented groups are centred.
Want guidance on how to lead your company’s diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts?