Do you remember your first day of school? Neither do I… but I can remember how I felt. Entering a foreign environment unsure of my place in the group, unsure of who I could trust and unsure if I would be accepted.
This is how minority employees (or any employees) may feel when they find themselves in a new workplace. It can be difficult to gauge how you are received and how much of yourself you should share with fellow members of staff, especially when there is something that you feel sets you apart from the get-go. What can companies do to alleviate the apprehension that comes with starting a new job? For many, the solution lies in cultivating a culture of allyship.
Who (or what) are workplace allies?
Allies are people who do not belong in a minority group but work to proactively ensure that the voices of the group are being heard. Often allies use their own voice in order to elevate and support others.
In the workplace, allies assist in creating a stronger, more positive environment by helping you to know you are valued in the team, by allowing you to be open and the truest version of yourself, and by doing so, create a culture of trust in the workplace. Knowing that you are accepted regardless of your race, gender, beliefs or sexuality reduces worry and anxiety, and allows you to put your full attention into work.
Considering the average worker spends a quarter of their lifetime at work, it stands to reason that from our time at work, the people we are surrounded by and the workplace culture we are part of will have a considerable effect on the other three quarters of our lives, including of our family, friends and the wider community.
Building allyship in the workplace
Being an ally isn't just a matter of tolerance or even quiet support. Allyship involves deliberate intent and steps towards empathy, and specific actions towards improving the experience of minority groups. Here are some ways your company can foster allyship in the workplace:
Be aware: Try to create an inclusive environment and be aware of unconscious bias. Encourage individuals to take a few minutes to examine and analyse personal potential biases and assumptions. The biggest and hardest thing is to let go of preconceived notions of normalcy, and assuming certain behaviour or ways of thinking are "correct" or the "default".
Get involved: At Objective, we are proud of the diversity in our workplaces and we take specific actions to celebrate it whenever we can by acknowledging cultural holidays and events. This is a great opportunity to get involved and have fun.
Change it up: Perhaps you and your team are doing good work but coming up with solutions and ideas that lack innovation. Look outside of your team and involve another member of staff. Allyship acknowledges that minority groups are shaped by a separate set of experiences. Often this means a different way of thinking, which can translate to out-of-the-box solutions. This is also a way to provide someone who may be overlooked the chance for contribution and recognition.
At Objective, we strongly believe that "great people make great teams" and we value integrity, tenacity and expertise. Our workforce consists of talented people from around the globe and our leaders and team members value the importance and benefits of a diverse working environment.
We have all seen and heard about examples of segregation and intolerance throughout history, and admittedly, the human race still has a ways to go until we live in a world without intolerance. However, if we choose to foster a spirit of inclusion and embrace a culture of diversity in the workplace, we can propel ourselves toward a more tolerant and inclusive existence.
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