How I experienced the real power of actions from allies
- Posted on October 30, 2018
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Amy Alley.
Our Raleigh, N.C., office recently held our first Prism office event. Prism is Avanade’s global employee resource group focused on advocating for LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace. Leading up to the event’s ally-focused discussion, which I was speaking at, several of us had a really wonderful conversation about what it means to be an ally. Inspired, I chose to close our presentation that day with a personal story about how the actions of two Avanade managers convinced me to stay with the company. Even though, at the time, they didn’t know I was considering an offer to leave.
This is that story
Shortly after I started with Infusion, the Avanade acquisition was announced. The transition, from my perspective, was a little bumpy and uncomfortable. At the same time, we had a shift in tone on the engagement that had led me to join the company. All this change and confusion left me feeling like I had made a career move mistake. It was a strong enough feeling that I started to "consider my options."
One day, after having a great conversation with another company, I stumbled upon the Prism channel on Yammer, our internal social network. Avanade is the first company that I have worked for that had an open LGBT group. It's a really wonderful thing, and I felt so much appreciation for that as I read through old posts. My manager happened to walk by while I was reading posts, and curious that I was fascinated by something, stopped by to see what I was reading.
I had recently taken a chance on this big, burly, scary-looking guy and had come out to him as gay. So I felt like I could share what I was reading. I explained how cool I thought it was that the New York City and Australian offices had such a big, visible LGBT presence. I lamented that our office didn't have that kind of support and visibility. He acknowledged it and we moved on to a little small talk before he walked away.
Two days later he stopped by my desk, sat down, looked me in the eyes and said "OK, what do you want to do about it?" I was genuinely surprised by the question and didn't really have an answer for him. He asked me to make a proposal and assured me, that while he didn't know much about the LGBT community, he would help me with whatever he could to make it happen. With my permission he took my proposal to his manager, who also came directly to my desk and asked how he could help.
Honestly, North Carolina doesn't have the best reputation for being a supportive place for the LGBT community. My personal experience has been mostly wonderful, but I do understand the balance that we live in, in our state. So while I thought it was wonderful that these guys wanted to help, I wasn't really sure that I was comfortable enough at Avanade to be open about my life. I was new to the company and I was worried that my new friendships would suffer, and that my standing as an engineer would fall if people found out I belonged to a community that not everyone approves of.
This is where I think the real power of actions as an ally come through
Even though I was nervous and unsure of what to do, they kept things moving around me, and for me. They pushed me, in a supportive way, to take the leap and introduce our office to the LGBT community. They didn't let action items linger or die, even when I was being indecisive myself. I have rarely had non-LGBT people take such a supportive, active role in helping our community. I was so moved that I decided to not only stay with Avanade but to get involved with the Prism group, the Employee Engagement Council, and to work to find new ways to help create relationships with local and national LGBT organizations.
So, while being an ally is a great concept that I think most of us believe in at a conceptual level, being an active ally can have real, tangible results. And not just for an individual– which is wonderful – but for an office, a company and the community around us.
Are you interested in how you can make a difference? Read our CMO Stella Goulet’s take on allyship and how you too can make a real impact.