We spoke to the Adecco Group colleagues and members of our Q+ community to understand the power of allyship in creating a more inclusive world of work

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In the evolving world of work, every person needs to see and understand their role in inclusion. To empower everyone to bring their best self to work, we aspire to create a workplace where everyone feels respected, appreciated, and a deep sense of belonging. To help bring this vision to life, we must enact change in our own organisation and our ourselves. Part of that journey starts with allies.

Allies are people who stand with minority communities to champion their rights, speak for those who are denied a voice and support them with the aim of advancing inclusion. It’s important to remember allyship is a lifelong process of learning, supporting, nourishing and growing relationships with underrepresented or marginalized groups. They are an essential key in creating an open environment of belonging and inclusion. Our research shows that a culture of belonging can be just as important as salary when it comes to employee retention and wellbeing.

“If you really want to create a more equitable world, sometimes you have to be conscious that your voice and your seat at the table can allow others to have a seat at the table,” explains Brian McCabe, co-founder of the Adecco Group’s Q+ network.

This is the founding idea of our Allyship initiative and our Pride Month campaign. Inspired by the stories and bonds built through Q+, this strategy seeks to encourage all Adecco Group members to commit to actions, behaviours and practices that support others, especially those who don’t belong to the same social identity groups as themselves.

“Being an Ally means a commitment to use your voice for people who don’t feel accepted for who they are,” says Coram Williams, CFO at the Adecco Group. “We have to live it both in work and outside of work.”

Allies in the workplace

Creating and maintaining an inclusive culture that welcomes all is spearheaded by allies. For so many people in the world of work, they experience allyship and inclusion through actions with others. Whether it is because of ethnicity, sexuality, faith, neurodivergence, disabilities, gender or other differences, minorities face barriers that allies can, in part, help them overcome.

When it comes to LGBTQIA+ inclusion, allies advocate for the rights, wellbeing and inclusion of the community by challenging discrimination, demonstrating acceptance and creating places for LGBTQIA+ people to thrive.

Mary Ruiz, Group SVP & Head of Premium Accounts, explains “there is no single playbook on being an Ally. The desire to become an Ally is usually shaped by a personal experience. Those things are pretty deep, so being an Ally is emotional, it’s action-oriented, it’s sustainable but I think it can actually start with a simple conversation in a safe space.”

At the Adecco Group, we’ve created a safe and inclusive space for both allies and LGBTQIA+ colleagues alike called Q+. Our community reaches across our business and acts as a forum for people to come together to share and learn about their experiences.

To Brian, the initiative is the perfect place for people to start their journey as an Ally. “To start is to listen and to understand,” he explains. “Once that process has started, you gain the courage to stand up against stances or opinions that dehumanise people.”

“There’s a sense of belonging and community [in Q+],” adds Scott Barshay, Senior Director of Global Program Management at Pontoon. “We’re all curious about each other, we’re all so different and it’s a beautiful place to be.”

Our research shows a culture of wellbeing and belonging remains one of the top three wellbeing factors for over 30,000 workers worldwide! Forty percent of people we surveyed said that a culture of trust where people feel safe to express themselves, and an environment of inclusivity and a clear sense of belonging are must-haves to support their mental health – more than team building, increased annual leave or wellbeing programmes.

For Marcus Maschmedt, Global Sales Enablement Manager at LHH, allies have a great role to play in creating such an environment. “Allyship means to me the willingness and empathy to listen and hear the voices of those who may not have the chance to voice their opinion out of fear of ridicule or hatred,” he explains.

Put very simply, “Allyship means support,” says Manny Milazzo, VP, Sales Enablement, Analytics & CRM at the Adecco Group.

But Allyship isn’t a passive phenomenon that just happens. We should be using the word “ally” as an active verb rather than a passive accolade. In other words, we need to say that we are allying ourselves with the LGBTQIA+ community and follow through on that with action.

“It’s about leveraging power, empathy and influence to help people,” says Scott.

Allyship beyond the world of work

True allyship transcends the world of work and has the power to create a more inclusive society. Allying yourself with any minority group or diverse community starts with understanding that you don’t fully comprehend how someone else experiences life. The experience of LGBTQIA+ people is rich, diverse and complicated and extends far beyond the workplace.

“We tend to systematise everything into structures,” explains Mary. Whether at work or outside of it, Allyship doesn’t change. “Honestly, my personal belief is that Allyship is built on multiple interactions and creating safe spaces – one person at a time.”

Q+ is a space where people can talk about their experiences both inside and outside of work. By extension, it’s also a place for people to learn from each other.

Scott adds that voluntary and continual education is a crucial part of being an Ally in the search for diversity. Marcus echoes this wholeheartedly: “You don’t know what you don’t know, sometimes all it takes is for someone to educate you a little bit. What companies can do to make things better in the future is to continue to educate. Change will come if you’re willing to continue working on it every day from the very top level to the bottom.”

Networks like Q+ are also crucial forums for the next generation. They allow younger members of the team to see senior executives being openly LGBTQIA+, being recognized for their efforts and thriving at work.

“[Out senior employees] can offer support and encourage these younger workers without bias or discrimination,” says Scott.

True Allyship means continuing to educate yourself and others, advocate for the rights and needs of LGBTQIA+ people inside and outside of work, and cultivate environments in which not just LGBTQIA+ people, but everyone, can thrive.

“I believe all human beings should have the opportunity to thrive,” concludes Brian. That is the spirit of Allyship.

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