What makes a good ally
Allies have been at the forefront of changing the landscape of culture within organisations. Sometimes they are the best placed to push an agenda forward and get their changes heard by senior and board level members. During lock down this is no different, and when engagement is limited there is even more of a need to ensure we are all doing our bit.
So: what is an ally in the workplace context? An ally is someone who doesn’t belong to the particular network group or diversity strand, i.e. women, LGBT+, ethnicity, etc., but shows support in some way. Their beliefs should be that everyone should be treated equally and without bias.
What an ally can do?
It’s important to understand the challenges of a diverse workforce, listen and hear perspectives. Sometimes innocent conversation or terminology can feel discriminatory or biased to some, during a lock down this is no different. It’s even more important to understand what people maybe facing as barriers might seem exaggerated during difficult times.
Whether it’s joining your company’s network groups or employee resource groups to supporting the intrinsic needs of your diverse colleagues and wider organisation, there are many ways to show your support. Many organisations have various digital events throughout the lock down period, engaging in them in some way can really show support, and you might also learn a thing or two.
Call out bad behaviour
Quietly challenge others who show unconcious bias are discriminatory, but make sure you do it privately after the Zoom meeting. A crude joke to some might seem hugely inappropriate to certain sectors of the workforce. Be aware of what can be deemed as negative language, offensive behaviour and micro aggression.
When you are joining up teams or holding virtual meetings, always be mindful of all. For those who might feel ostracized as a minority group these feelings can be even more so during virtual meetings or calls rather than face to face. Try and encourage participation where possible, it just take a bit of effort from everyone to further inclusion.
Go a bit further
Want to change the culture of your organisation or champion a particular strand of diversity, allies are sometimes the best place to create change. Help with new initiatives, events, campaigns or company initiatives are a good start in pushing the agenda forward for better working practices for all employees.