WOMEN IN BUSINESS: True impact in diversity and inclusion is a year-round endeavour

Good allyship promotes equity and belonging, challenges our bias and prejudice, fosters empathy, builds strong and authentic relationships, promotes critical thinking and broadens our perspectives
Orla McKeating

HOW can we be better allies to one another both in business and in our communities? What does it really mean to be a true ally? These are pertinent questions we should be asking ourselves and each other more and more frequently.

Allyship is actively and consistently supporting and advocating for under-recognised or under-represented groups, making conscious decisions both inside and outside of the workplace that help sow the seeds of sustainable, long-term change.

This can include speaking up against discrimination, bias, or exclusion when you encounter them, advocating for policies and practices that promote diversity and equity, both within your organisation and in society, getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and being willing to say or do the wrong thing and be accountable.

However, all of this is easier said than done and taking the first step can be a challenge. If we really want to move towards a truly inclusive workplace, showing up as a good ally has proven to have sustainable impact. Good allyship promotes equity and belonging, it challenges our own bias and prejudice, it fosters empathy, it builds strong and authentic relationships, promotes critical thinking and most importantly broadens our perspectives.

Taking that crucial first step is often the hardest but using key calendar days and weeks as a starting point within your organisation can be a great opportunity to embed diversity and foster a more inclusive environment in your business.

Take the recent National Inclusion Week, for example. This year’s rallying call was ‘Take Action, Make Impact’ a timely reminder that each of us in our own ways, whether big or small, has the power to make a difference.

Events like Black History Month or Disability Pride Month actively encourage employers and employees to reflect both on the things they could be doing better. From inclusive policies or culture change within a particular team, to celebrating the progress they’ve made in all things diversity and inclusion.

It is also important to be receptive to feedback about your efforts in promoting inclusion, and don't be discouraged by mistakes; view them as opportunities to learn and grow in your journey toward inclusivity.

It’s only in taking a step back and reflecting on your progress that we realise the successes along the road, the opportunities still ahead and the strategies needed to continuously improve.

This pragmatic measurement is key to our work at Diversity Mark where we enable businesses across the UK and Ireland to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces through tailormade EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) strategies and the establishment of targets and goals that are ambitious, yes, but ultimately sustainable.

:: Orla McKeating is business development manager at Diversity Mark, part of the WiB Group