Clare Bourne – Head of Delivery, Innovation & Growth.
In February this year, I was invited to attend a workshop on allyship and how to be a better ally in the workplace.
I was invited to participate by Rebekka Bishop from CACI – CyNam’s Next Gen & Diversity partner. The invite was sent to contribute to CyNam’s strategic objective of understanding what more we can do as an organisation to promote diversity in the sector.
The session was hosted and facilitated by Chikere Igbokwe founder of the Allyship Community and Inclusive Consultancy, taking the allyship message into workplaces.
The session was immediately interesting – a group of people (some of whom had never met) opened up and shared their individual stories of times when they had either felt on the receiving end of some bias, or a time when they might have needed an ally. We were reassured that this is a safe space and that conversations may be hard, we
were encouraged to challenge each other and see the side that existed other than our own.
We covered a range of topics in the workshop, and we discussed privilege and what we each identified privilege as. Some people in the group identified that they were privileged in some areas, while they may not be privileged in others i.e. someone who may be able-bodied, may be underserved in another area of their life. What must be learned from this is that each individual has a story and a unique journey in the world – it pays to understand not only where you feel like you don’t have privilege, but also where you do.
Microaggressions were also a hot topic, and we discussed how we can intervene should we encounter one. The workplace is changing, and the once acceptable communications of distasteful banter, inappropriate slights and suggestive comments should be long behind us as a civilised society – however, they are not. Every day people are made to feel incredibly uncomfortable and marginalised by the clumsy and somewhat narrow-minded commentary of others and we must step in, we must be an ally. We need to be calling it out and putting it right.
This session is just scratching the surface of what changes we should make across this sector, there are years worth of change ahead of Disappointingly, potentially decades of change or as Chikere stated possibly not even in our lifetime.
For more information on how you can be a better ally, please follow Chickere’s website: https://www.allyship.co.uk