I’ve been very active over the last year or so at work in raising and socialising the concept of Allyship in our EDI (Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion) groups and projects. This is the process where people who have relative privilege engage in the ongoing unlearning and questioning and support of people with disadvantages – its not an identity but an ongoing journey to take part in the work needed to raise equity for everyone. I’m lucky enough to be working with staff networks and a professional team in our corporate strategy areas to pull together guidance and training that I hope can be made available at all levels in out organisation. Today saw another step forward.
I’d done a draft last year of materials and then handed them over to the wider networks to start the conversation about what Allyship means to different people – whether that’s LGBTQ+, Women, Disability Forums, Carer support, Ethnic Minorities, Religious groups, indeed anyone from a protected or overlooked community or group. This morning we gathered to start to feed back on and develop the first draft of a training session aimed at raising awareness and starting conversations. It has been a huge source of pride to see the bones of the material I assembled being used as an inspiration and starting point for something that I hope will demystify and empower people who are not themselves in a minority group but who want to show, embody, and lead in support and understanding their colleagues and customers.
It’s been an exhausting morning, but I hope it leads to some really important things. I’m also glad to be involved in moving it all forward.
All this has come from my experiences since the first lockdown in supporting my friends, partners, and extended family both in home life and professional contexts. It comes from talking to customers and people casually met. It comes from the number of times I’ve heard “Oh I’m scared I’ll say the wrong thing”, and it comes from seeing and hearing the distress of the trans, disabled, and otherwise extraordinary people in my life. It’s one thing standing up for myself – that’s relatively easy as I can choose to pass as a white heteronormative man – but showing up and staying put for others is more important. I don’t always get it right, but I learn, I correct, and hopefully take away the fear for others.
This Allyship project means a lot to me – and hopefully I’ll be able to carry on reporting great things about it as it comes to fruition.