The first thing to consider is what level of allyship you’re willing to give. There is an allyship continuum from: apathetic, when you are saying that you’re an ally, but not doing very much to be an active ally through to someone who is willing to educate themselves and be active in speaking truth to power and pointing out when they see microaggressions in the workplace.
To become an active ally, it is helpful to broaden your perspective by reading books from diverse authors, seeking out news from different parts of the world and different perspectives and widening your own network.
As an ally, you’ll have conversations that include race. In one of the organisations that we’re working with, a senior leader is a sponsor. He has been leading for a long time and before the programme started he said he had mentored lots of people from diverse backgrounds and race had never ever come into the conversation.
In reality that means that some things have not been allowed to come into the conversation that might be very important for individuals and that might be playing a very important role in their career and their lives. A good question to ask yourself as a senior leader is “What am I privileging in conversation, what am I inadvertently excluding, and what impact does that have on others?”
Lastly, bringing different voices into the room is very important. A good way of doing this is to have a shadow board. This is a board of diverse individuals who know they’re not board members but who give you different perspectives. Where possible the shadow board should mirror your customers to ensure you are taking their needs and opinions into account.
There are very few organisations whose audience matches the people in their board, and as a result mistakes can be made by forgetting groups of people who are your customers. When you mirror your audience this is far less likely to happen.
Being on a shadow board also serves as learning opportunity for its members and a succession tool. By being part of the shadow board they’ll gain a better understanding of what it means to be a board member. If they decide to go for those sorts of roles in the future they’ll be better informed.
There are so many good reasons to embrace Inclusion, Diversity and belonging. It brings adaptability, flexibility, creativity and the ability to see things from a range of perspectives. And in our rapidly changing and challenging world, this will help you to remain competitive and ultimately to survive.
Organisations should want to create inclusive environments where everyone belongs, but only if it’s driven by genuine depth of thought and commitment. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it or you risk being ‘cancelled’ in Twitter speak for virtue signaling.
Watch the Jenny Garrett interview Video at the B4 One: EDI Event: https://youtu.be/bnCkdnYPhxw