🌈 Embracing Allyship: Fostering Inclusivity in the Workplace 🌟

Written by
Sean Vickers

Chief Executive Officer

Published on

21 February 2024

Under the category

Authentic Voices

As we celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, Malcolm Mackenzie, author of Queerbook joins our CEO, Sean Vickers to talk about the importance of the workplace ally and how it's less 'us and them', and more just one big 'us'.

Hello everyone!  It’s been a while.  

As we celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, I’d like to reflect on the importance of creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected for who they are.

Having spent over two decades in the financial services sector, I've seen first-hand the challenges and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace. From witnessing performative gestures of corporate allyship to confronting instances of discrimination based on sexual orientation, the journey towards inclusivity has been both rewarding and arduous.

Did you know that according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, companies with diverse teams are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors? This statistic underscores the tangible benefits of fostering inclusivity in the workplace.

In our quest for a truly diverse and inclusive work environment, the role of allies is pivotal. Being an ally goes beyond mere words—it entails taking concrete actions to support and advocate for marginalised groups. It means leveraging our privilege to dismantle systemic barriers and create a more equitable space for all.

As allies, you can make a difference by speaking out against discrimination, amplifying the voices of underrepresented colleagues, and educating ourselves and others on issues of diversity and inclusion. It's a continuous journey of growth and learning, marked by humility and openness to feedback.

Understanding the demographic landscape is crucial in fostering inclusivity. Data from Censuses, which are questionnaires filled out by everyone in a country at a specific time, offer valuable insights. In England and Wales, a census of people aged 16 and older is carried out every ten years. 

According to recent Census data, 3.7% of respondents identified themselves as LGBTQ+, totalling a significant 1.76 million people. However, it's important to note that not everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ may feel comfortable answering the question, and there were 3.6 million people who did not answer the sexuality question at all. This highlights the challenges in accurately capturing LGBTQ+ representation and underscores the need for creating inclusive environments where individuals feel safe to disclose their identities.

I invite each of you to reflect on how you can be a better ally in your workplace. Together, we can cultivate an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute their unique talents and perspectives.

Curious to delve deeper into LGBTQ+ topics and allyship?

Check out "Queerbook" by Malcolm Mackenzie, a comprehensive exploration of queer history, culture, and communities. 

I spoke with Malcolm recently and he shared invaluable insights on allyship in the workplace:

When it comes to sexuality and identity, I’ve stopped thinking about ‘us’ and ‘them’ – we are all one big ‘us.’ Just because some people haven’t openly expressed or explored some aspect of themselves, doesn’t mean we should assume a rigid-straight agenda.

A healthy degree of variance in a community will lead to strength. No group can thrive and evolve if every member is bringing the same skills and vision to the table. We need new ways of thinking, so that when we get stuck, someone with a different lived-experience can step in and offer a brand-new way through.

Show support as an ally

To further enhance your allyship journey, here are ten actionable ways Malcolm has called out how you can show your support:

  • Expand your LGBTQ+ vocabulary and stay updated on evolving terminology.
  • Respect individuals' pronouns and ask when unsure.
  • Avoid assumptions about sexual orientation and embrace language neutrality.
  • Dive into LGBTQ+ literature and support queer authors and businesses.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and apologize when necessary…learning is a process.
  • Challenge homophobic remarks and create safe spaces for dialogue.
  • Respect diverse expressions of identity and refrain from using derogatory language.
  • Embrace non-conforming societal norms and celebrate individuality.
  • Explore different facets of the LGBTQ+ community to broaden your understanding.
  • Amplify LGBTQ+ voices and advocate for inclusivity in all spaces.

Together, let's champion allyship and create workplaces where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Ready to embark on your allyship journey? Explore "Queerbook" by Malcolm Mackenzie here: https://harpercollins.co.uk/products/queerbook-malcolm-mackenzie?variant=40276794343502

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