27 February 2024
The Importance of ‘Active Allyship’ – Green Park’s Top Takeaways
As Green Park celebrates Pride 2023, we approached the Champions of our LGBTQIA+ Committee, Alys Bills and Andrew Stilwell, to share their thoughts on LGBTQIA+ inclusion, fostering more inclusive workplaces and recruitment processes, and being better allies all year round.
Here are their thoughts:
How far has LGBTQIA+ inclusion come and why is Pride Month needed in 2023?
Alys and Andrew agree that while massive headway has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to achieve true inclusivity, and that the answer varies depending on your location, circumstance and experience.
“The majority of my peers and I live in a society where LGBTQIA+ inclusion is thriving. It was good when I was young, and it's even better now,” says Alys, Operations Executive at Green Park.
But as Andrew, Green Park’s Head of Delivery, adds “microaggressions are still commonplace, resulting in passive ways that homophobia and transphobia can seep into some homes, schools, and office spaces.”
Pride month provides necessary dedicated time where people can learn and understand the challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face around the world. While progress throughout the UK has generally improved “leaps and bounds”, Alys reminds us that many LGBTQIA+ individuals live in societies or communities where inclusion is non-existent. “We're not equal until everyone is.”
What actions can leaders take to foster more inclusive workplaces for LGBTQIA+ employees, including those whose LGBTQIA+ identity intersects with other diversity strands?
Alys and Andrew agree that education is key to encourage more inclusion, with efforts most effective when coming from leadership.
“It is still very new to see openly queer people in professional settings,” Alys says. “Much of the conversation surrounding sexuality and gender still feels very taboo to discuss in a professional environment, so it's important for leaders to encourage discussing LGBTQIA+ issues.”
While the fear of 'getting it wrong' can become a roadblock, Alys actively encourages leaders to ask questions and support wider team learning. Respecting pronouns and identities goes a long way, with inclusive leaders embracing team members who are openly different to the ‘norm’. Andrew also emphasises the importance of education regarding considerations particular to LGBTQIA+ colleagues, such as refraining from outing them unless you know they are comfortable.
Andrew shared the importance of viewing LGBTQIA+ diversity through an intersectional lens. “Recognising and actively including individuals whose LGBTQIA+ identity intersects with other dimensions of diversity, such as religion, is crucial,” he says. “It is important that we all respect each other’s views and lived experiences from that basis.”
What steps can employers take to ensure an open and inclusive experience for LGBTQIA+ candidates in the recruitment process?
As a global talent advisory firm, Green Park passionately advocates for diversity and inclusion and we have designed our recruitment process to drive a positive and inclusive experience at every candidate touchpoint. This includes ensuring that diverse candidates are not deterred at the initial stages by the job description, exploring any blockers which make it harder to reach beyond the usual candidate pool and working with our DEI experts to ensure we are appealing and accessible to the broadest range of candidates. When considering inclusivity in recruitment, it is important that all diversity strands are discussed and considered.
Alys advocates for respecting individuals’ identities at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. Ask for a candidate’s pronouns if you are unsure of how they identity – we educate and encourage our clients to do the same.
In terms of candidate attraction, development and retention, Andrew suggests “providing more platforms and creating staff network groups is a positive way to drive an open and inclusive workplace culture for LGBTQIA+ employees.”
As a recruiter, it is also important to investigate and raise any concerns regarding the client's culture. Alys suggests asking whether, “an LGBTQIA+ candidate is going to find it easy and comfortable to belong at the company? Does the client need to do more work on creating an inclusive and educated space?” At Green Park we work with our clients on their transformation journey to help them identify and tackle any barriers to inclusion and work toward becoming an employer of choice for diverse talent.
How can allies better support LGBTQIA+ inclusion all year round?
“Even when all of the Pride flags get taken down next month,” Alys suggests, “keep educating yourself, keep supporting inclusion and visibility.” Being an ally means actively educating friends, family, and colleagues in private when they say something misinformed or offensive. “Call them out if they say something negative in a group or in the office – and listen openly when being educated.”
“Something I always say to people who tell me something along the lines of, "but I just don't get it!" when discussing sexuality and gender, is: you don't have to understand something to respect it.”
Andrew adds that “many microaggressions, which can perpetuate stereotypes and create an exclusionary environment, come from language that has been ingrained in our vocabulary.” While often unintentional and the result of individuals’ unconscious biases, educating ourselves and others can help eliminate these microaggressions and create more inclusive and equitable workplaces.
Equally important to Pride is celebrating the wins of the queer community, while drawing attention to the barriers it still faces. Alys sees value in “reposting and sharing queer history, trailblazers, wins and losses, and showcasing queer role models for the next generation of people in business.”
Pride month is a fantastic time to celebrate how far the queer community has come, to highlight what's next, and how allies can help create an inclusive society – but support must continue all year long.
Green Park is a strong advocate of Pride Month and actively supports organisations internationally in building diverse and inclusive work environments. For further information about our D&I, Culture & Ethics Consultancy (DICE), please get in touch.