Diversity and Inclusion  

How to be a good ally in the workplace 

How to be a good ally in the workplace 

According to a recent report from McKinsey, for every 10 per cent more racially or ethnically diverse a company’s senior team is, its earnings before interest and taxes is nearly 1 per cent higher.

 

Another report from the company, focused solely on the financial industry, found that 90 per cent of those at the C-suite level are white.

Diversity and inclusion need to be addressed across every part of a business, but one thing all leaders can do is be a better ally.  

An ally is not a member of an underrepresented group, but still makes an effort to support them.

Allies have to put themselves out there, which may sometimes feel uncomfortable, but they can make meaningful change.

If you would like to help address diversity and inclusion issues in your company, here are some ways to immediately become a better ally. 

• Identify minority groups and introduce yourself. 

The obvious and logical place to start is by identifying and championing the minority groups you already have at your workplace.

It might sound contrived, but allyship needs to be intentional.

Start by identifying relevant colleagues, introducing yourself and arranging a coffee to get a better understanding of their role and their desired career path.

From there, you can generally be more vocal about their performance and make sure they have visible roles across the company.

Some practical ideas for doing this include inviting them to important meetings and actively recommending them for assignments. 

• Be a peer, not a manager. 

Entering a workplace that is not particularly diverse can be intimidating. 

To compensate, it is essential that existing employees establish a way for new and underrepresented employees to express their concerns, frustrations and needs.  

Being an ally means stepping up – regardless of your level – to welcome new peers into the office and make sure that everyone feels comfortable. 

Whereas employees may offer a rosy picture to managers, they’re likely to be frank with their colleagues. 

So, open up your calendar to your co-workers for conversations over coffee to get to know them.  

Over time, you can begin to hold ‘informational interviews’ where you and your co-workers share your challenges, motivations and expertise.

Offer advice and guidance and even act as an informal mentor if the other person wants it, but do not lecture them.

If you do not feel that you are in an appropriate position or have the resources to support someone, offer to connect them with someone else in your network instead.  

• Tell them your (work-related) secrets. 

Nearly every workplace and industry has unspoken rules and networks, and they are often heavily guarded.

They are not always obvious, or things you can pick up easily, but rather social groups and particular ways of working.  

A great way to be an ally is to share these secrets and invite your co-workers to do the same.

If you are in a position to do so, invite new people into informal groups (perhaps there is a lunch group or running team at your workplace) and give more specific advice on ways of working (maybe you know that a specific manager prefers to be emailed, while another prefers instant messenger).