What is allyship in the workplace?
Firstly, let me give you some context.
Today’s population in Australia is incredibly diverse. People from all races, nations, and cultures now call Australia home. And, people of diverse sexual and gender orientations are rightly getting more recognition, equality and understanding in this country (although it’s taken some time).
See all these diverse groups of people?
They’re also representative of the workplace in Australia. It doesn’t matter if your business is white collar, blue collar, pink collar or any collar, or across any industry: it’s a known and proven fact that diversity in the workplace makes good business sense, important moral sense and feeds a better level of community inclusivity.
This is where allyship in the workplace comes in.
Allyship in the workplace is an active business strategy that ensures the minority groups in your business, are recognised, heard and included.
Allyship in the workplace establishes allies – or ‘buddies’ – for minority workers, with individuals from the broader representation of your workforce (it’s also a great strategy to adopt for new workers and contingent workers). Typically, these allies are from the same team.
Allies ensure those in minority groups experience a level of comfort and inclusiveness from the start of their tenure.
Why Does Allyship Matter?
The commercial reasons for establishing allyship in your business are clear:
Allies help to create a dynamic where the allied worker feels accepted regardless of race, gender, sexuality or beliefs. They feel less anxious about being themselves. They feel welcomed from the get-go. And as a result, their time-to-productivity is shorter, and engagement in the business higher. A true win-win.
The strategy helps to ensure all workers are visible, listened to, engaged and motivated.
By including the experiences of minorities, as a part of business decision making – not as an occasional ‘must do’ – your business culture grows as one of empathy, inclusion and tolerance.
Allyship in the Workplace: Key Considerations
Remove Unconscious Bias
Let’s face it. Unconscious bias is present in our workplaces in Australia. By becoming aware of it, recognising when it happens, and taking better pathways to overturn it, you’ll help your business to be more objective AND innovative. (Unconscious bias management training is increasingly popular).
By eliminating ideas, insights or experiences of those against whom there may be unconscious biases, your business is incapable of performing to its potential. Again, this isn’t just a people and culture issue, it’s a commercial issue.
From Deloitte’s 2019 ‘State of Inclusion’ report:
68% of respondents reported that bias had a negative effect on productivity
70% believed the bias the experienced negatively impacted how engaged they felt at work
84% said that bias negatively affected their happiness, confidence and wellbeing
Walk the Talk
Allyship in the workplace isn’t just about the buddy system and helping minority peoples. It’s also about respecting their traditions, beliefs and customs.
So, consider marking significant cultural holidays and events. This will not only be a great educational tool for the business overall, but it also provides an opportunity to have fun via events and social gatherings.
Get Lateral in your Thinking
Great people are the most valuable asset of your business, right? So how about engaging people from teams other than your own, to contribute to your latest innovation, idea or problem.
Often, by introducing a different way of thinking, new ideas and solutions arise. Everyone has different experiences and insights to bring to the table – tap into these for the benefit of everyone in your business.
Allyship in the workplace may be a new people strategy you’ve not considered before. But rest assured, it works. Allyship is also valuable if you regularly engage contingent workers. Broader perspectives and a more tolerant workforce will make for a happier, more cohesive place to work.
If you would like to discuss allyship in the workforce, I’d be happy to help. You can get in touch with me here.