The critical importance of demonstrating true allyship in the workplace

The Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a turning point for the corporate work culture, as companies reevaluated their practices and found new ways to respond to the evolving needs of the workplace. Amid lockdowns and social distancing, many employers rose to the occasion, strengthening their communications and relationships with staff while reimagining the workplace to accommodate hybrid work and a more supportive and encouraging environment.

Businesses realised that yes, people come for opportunities, but they often stay for the culture.  

To demonstrate resilience and inspire growth and innovation, businesses need to support diverse and inclusive teams. In fact, research shows that innovation happens best when differing perspectives are supported – a huge consideration for any diversity and inclusion strategy.

This is a prominent theme in financial services. In a recent survey of 600 global M&A professionals, 63% said that diversity in the workplace is very important to them. Moreover, more than half acknowledged that diversity matters to their managers, executive leadership, board of directors, and clients. However, when it comes to demonstrating allyship, efforts can fall short.

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.

So how can leaders and individuals effectively demonstrate continuous allyship?

Be vocal and act

Though they may seem simple, sharing Pride-related content on social media or updating email signature to include pronouns are actually important actions that can make a difference

Additionally, providing direct financial support can have a big impact, as money can often make or break an LGBQTIA+ member’s stability. At Datasite, we use our global peer-to-peer recognition tool, to enable employees to donate points they’ve earned to organizations such as The Trevor Project,  the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQIA+ charities.

Keep the conversation going

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 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.

Walk the talk on D&I and power the cause by complying with 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.

Creating and sustaining inclusive communities is part of a long game. All of us need to play our part