31 January, 2024
Allyship at Work in 2024: A Quick HR Guide
Before we dive into this blog, let’s go through some eye-opening statistics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace:
- 1. As per studies conducted in 2021, men remained disproportionately in power across both business and government, accounting for around 90 percent of all heads of state and Fortune 500 CEOs.
- 2. The predicted time to close the global gender gap is 135.6 years, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 from the World Economic Forum.
- 3. According to Korn Ferry, only 5% of leaders globally are acting in an inclusive way
- 4. 77% of men believe they are doing all they can to support gender equality at work, while only 41% of women agree.
- 5. LGBTQ+ activists think that well-meaning allies often don’t understand what they should and should not do, including at work.
In the current corporate arena, DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging) have become increasingly important from an organizational perspective, not just for cultural enrichment, but also for business success. Studies have shown that diverse teams outperform more homogenous ones in both productivity and profitability. Additionally, organizations that are both diverse and inclusive are 70% more likely to capture new markets and 19% more likely to see higher innovation. However, to make these DEI&B goals actionable, facilitating allyship at the workplace is crucial for HR departments.
What is Allyship?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines allyship as the quality or practice of helping or supporting other people who are part of a group that is treated unfairly, although you are not a member of this group. This definition applies to people in a position of privilege and uses it to benefit those from traditionally marginalized backgrounds at work. However, it is important to understand that allies are not rescuers or heroes. Instead, they proactively question potential biases in the organizational structure, processes, and day-to-day decision-making. They observe, question, examine evidence, and try different methods to arrive at equitable solutions that ultimately benefit everyone. For example, if a male ally hears someone say that a woman is unfit for a project, they challenge the root of that assumption.
How HR can facilitate allyship
Allyship can take on many forms, right from gender allyship to allyship based on other identities like race/caste, sexual orientation or even neurodiversity. It can also take the form of manager allyship, wherein managers stand up for and support their direct reports who are also facing discrimination at work. However, organizations have a moral imperative to encourage allyship, and HR can play a key role in this process, in the following ways-
- 1. Promote Allyship Education
Right from launching training programs to making educational material about allyship available on the intranet, HR can ensure that employees have adequate awareness about allyship and how they can safely stand up for their disadvantaged colleagues within the workplace.
- 2. Dedicate Spaces for Allyship
Creating employee resource groups dedicated to discussing allyship beyond just work helps diverse employee voices feel heard and gives allies a chance to make a difference through joining meetings and discussion forums which help to better understand what disadvantaged communities go through.
- 3. Encourage Allyship in the day-to-day
Allyship does not necessarily involve making grand gestures, but it’s important to spotlight when employees are supporting others without seeking any personal gain. Managers or peers can recognize positive traits related to allyship like empathy, courage, and initiative through an employee recognition software, which will empower allies to work in the right direction.
- 4. Create Equitable Opportunities for all
Spotlighting the achievements of those who are often passed for recognition, either because they work behind the scenes or in junior positions gives a positive message about inclusion and the organization’s resolve towards fairness and equitable opportunities for all. Additionally, creating career advancement programs for those from traditionally underprivileged groups can be an actionable way to create systemic change through organizational allyship.
It’s important to remember that allyship is inherently uncomfortable and requires people to step out of their comfort zones. Additionally, it is an iterative process wherein mistakes can be made. For example- standing up for a woman facing a microaggression at work may backfire if she feels she was not given the opportunity to defend herself first. Another example can be that a company’s public declaration of solidarity towards a particular community alienates some other communities who feel threatened by the declaration. However, it is better to learn and grow in the process than to let apathy eat into the human values that build lasting success for organizations.
Are you looking for an HR tech solution that helps create an equitable and inclusive R&R program for your workplace? Talk to our team of experts today.