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CSR & Making a Difference Q3 2022

Creating a safe space for allyship in the workplace

iStock / Getty Images Plus / VictoriaBar

Richa Tyagi

Sustainability Executive, Business in the Community Ireland

Recent events like the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on minority groups have demonstrated the reality of inequity in the world.

Incidents of inequality have also shed light on the power of allyship and the possibility of creating strong movements of change.

What does allyship look like?

Allyship is a very strong tool that can influence the culture of an organisation. It is about recognising personal privilege or power and using it to advocate for people in underrepresented groups.

How can you be an ally?

To use privilege for good and be a good ally, you have to be aware, listen and speak up. Allyship is a lifelong process. Allies are created by building relationships anchored with trust, accountability of actions and consistent interactions with minority groups over time.

It may be tempting to ask a few people about their experiences and generalise from the stories of one or two colleagues. Instead, support and mentor colleagues where you seem to have the most ability to influence change.

Allyship is meaningless if the actions of allies don’t have an impact.

Actions that build a culture of allyship

Organisations are aware of the benefits diverse and inclusive workforces offer. To foster a diverse culture, organisations must educate employees and support the change it brings.

  • Awareness: Not everyone is aware of the issues that some colleagues might be facing. Educate employees, and make people aware of their privileges and how to use them to support others.
  • Accountability: Allyship is meaningless if the actions of allies don’t have an impact. Encourage people to show up for others by ensuring that allyship is rewarded, and the company is accountable for taking action on the issues raised.
  • Allow feedback: Seek feedback from marginalised groups. Allow for honest feedback creating an honest flow of discussions. Any feedback should not impact a colleague’s position and their work dynamics with other colleagues.
  • Allow space: Not everyone is comfortable sharing their stories and speaking to a wider group. Fostering a culture of sharing and trust takes time. Allow people the space and time to come forward without pressure.
  • Enhance culture: Encourage your employees to be vigilant about discriminatory behaviours and to speak out when they witness discrimination.
  • Build a community of allies: Allow allies to create groups for fighting inequality in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion are key focus areas at BITCI. We support our members by building inclusive workplaces that are reflective of Irish society through our Elevate Pledge and our employment and education programmes.

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