How to demonstrate true allyship in the workplace today, and throughout the year

Business office workers from different ethnicities express support for self determination in LGBT. Business people showing LGBT flags in an office. Business people support Gender Equality

Article by Deb LaMere, CHRO at Datasite

As employees across the world braved the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting to lockdowns and social distancing, many businesses rose to the occasion providing their workers with greater support, including enhanced wellness programs, additional time off, or opportunities to give back to their communities.

Often, these businesses leaned into their purpose and values to guide their response.

But while rate hikes, recessionary fears and other uncertainties, continue to roil markets, businesses may be challenged to keep this focus. Yet, now is the exact moment that business leaders need to keep their foot on the employee engagement pedal. To remain competitive, businesses need to support diverse and inclusive teams if they want increased innovation and on the flip side, research shows that innovation happens best when differing perspectives are supported.

Industry recognizes this. In fact, in the financial sector, more specifically, in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) industry in which my company, Datasite, serves, 63% of 600 global dealmakers said that diversity in the workplace is very important to them, and more than half acknowledged that diversity matters to their managers, executive leadership, board of directors, and clients. However, where efforts seem to fall short are in demonstrating allyship. More than 20% of respondents in the same survey said they are unsure of how to show allyship with people from diverse backgrounds, citing fears about how to engage appropriately as the biggest factor holding them back.

With Pride celebrations kicking off in July, now is a great time for leaders and individuals to show their support by being a strong ally.  Below are a few ideas on how to demonstrate allyship now and throughout the year.

Follow the lead of diverse peers and make the conversation a continuous process:

More than 80% of people globally who identify as LGBTQIA+ withhold that information from all or most of the people in their lives. Allies are important because they can provide a voice to those afraid to speak up. Listen to their stories and experiences and follow their lead.

One way business can do this is by establishing diversity and inclusion councils, comprised of employees from all regions, functions and backgrounds. Councils can help provide insights, outreach and awareness on the importance of diversity and inclusivity, as well as provide practical advice on ways to give support, such as sharing how and why to use correct pronouns at work, or a list of LGBTQIA+ non-profits to consider supporting. At Datasite, for example, our diversity and inclusion council provides dedicated digital resources and information to all Datasite employees on the history of Pride, books and movies to help better understand the culture of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other activities that employees can take advantage of to show their support.

Champion and support proposed and current D&I regulations:

Investor and stakeholder pressures are continuing to push companies toward greater diversity. Late last year, two of the world’s largest asset management firms added diversity targets for boards at companies in which they are invested, requiring them to be at least 30% diverse and contain at least one member from an under-represented group. Here in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced rules in April requiring listed companies to disclose diversity targets on their boards and executive management, and state whether they met the targets and if they haven’t, explain why.

Take action or make a donation:

Though they may seem like simple and small activities, sharing Pride-related content on social media or updating your email signature to include your pronouns are actually small but important actions that can make a difference.  Additionally, providing direct financial support can have a big impact. Money can often make or break an LGBQTIA+ member’s stability. Using our global peer-to-peer recognition tool, employees at Datasite, can donated points they’ve earned to organizations such as The Trevor Project,  the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQIA+ charities.

Pride is a great time to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. But it’s not the only time. Creating and sustaining inclusive communities is part of a long game.

So, what will YOU do to be an ally now and in the next 12 months?

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