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Being an ally at Avanade

  • Posted on June 18, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
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I feel exceptionally proud to be an LGBT+ Ally, so I jumped at the chance to share my ally journey – in the hope that it encourages you to take the pledge too. 

I keenly signed up to be an LGBT+ Ally at Avanade, as part of Pride, last year. I say keenly because one of the guiding tenets of my life has always been that everyone should be free to be who they are. So the pledge ‘’I believe all Avanade and client employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity / expression deserve to feel safe and supported’’ resonated with me, and saying, “Yes!” to this call to action was easy. 

I was saying yes because I believe every space needs to be a safe space for LGBT+ people – all the time. And not just once a year. So, I signed the pledge, told others about it in the office and wore my rainbow lanyard.

I then began reading more about being an ally and came across an article that spoke about the important role an ally can play. It explained that we should think of being an ally is a verb because simply saying you are an ally is not enough. It took a while for that to sink in. I wanted to understand how to be a good ally, and what I could do to make being an ally about action. 

For me, that involved volunteering with vulnerable LGBT+ youth in Hampshire where I live (see below for some great resources for understanding where your help is needed). I understood that being an ally means challenging others’ words and actions, but it also requires looking inward. It is wonderful to participate in actions and speak up, but this is also a process of correcting yourself. These are my tips:

  1. Understand your privilege: This does not mean you have an easy life. It doesn’t mean you haven’t struggled. It means that there are some things in life that you will not experience or have to deal with because of who you are.
  2. Do your homework – there are so many resources out there from blogs, tweets, articles and TED Talks to help you understand the issues.
  3. Listen. Listen to the people with whom you’re trying to be an ally. What do they want you to do, if anything? What is your role? Listen to their experiences with oppression and/or marginalization.
  4. An ally’s job is to support. Use your privilege and voice to educate others. This includes figuring out how to support isolated communities the best way possible.

 

People can only be their best at work when they are themselves. I value the differences that exist within our organization. I hope that by being an ally, I help to create an environment where my colleagues feel safe to be who they are. We have a responsibility to stand up for the things we believe in. And this is me standing up for what I believe in. I am so proud to be part of a company that celebrates all individuals for being themselves. 

To help you get started here just a few (of many) organizations which focus within the LGBT+ community:

AKT: AKT supports LGBT+ youth experiencing homelessness or living in hostile environments

Switchboard: Switchboard provides information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men and bisexual and trans people – and anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Rich Jenulis

Freya, thanks for sharing your experience. Your article inspires me to do more as an ally. I appreciate the compass (your tips) to help point the way. 

June 25, 2019

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