Celebrating Pride Month: The Power of Allyship

As pride month has come to an end, Claudia McIntosh, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, reflects on the power of allyship in the workplace to foster an open and inclusive working environment.

What does it mean to be an ally?

Allyship is vital for fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. To be an effective ally, we must actively support and advocate for colleagues in the workplace who are part of the LGTBQ+ community, or any other minoritised group. This involves recognising and addressing barriers and biases that hinder their success and taking actions to create a more inclusive and psychologically safe environment.

Why does allyship in the workplace matter?

When we lead by allyship we create a more diverse, innovative, and productive workforce. In the utilities sector, where marginalised groups such as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many others, are often underrepresented, allyship can help to create a sense of psychological safety, attract and retain talented employees, and allow them to unlock their full potential, ultimately enhancing the industry's range of skills, perspective, and experience. Most importantly, allyship brings people together.

How can allies help change unhelpful attitudes and practices to make the workplace a more appealing, flexible, and inclusive place for marginalised groups?

Allies play a crucial role in driving meaningful change. By challenging inappropriate behaviours and language, advocating for equality and equity in policies and initiatives, and actively creating and promoting welcoming, safe spaces to hear the lived experiences of their colleagues, they can help create a more inclusive workplace.

What behaviours and actions should a good ally demonstrate?

Active listening, curiosity, and self-education are essential qualities of an ally. Alongside this, demonstrating a commitment to learning about the tapestry of others’ life experiences. Good allies engage in self-reflection and take accountability, examining their own attitudes, biases, and behaviours, and take steps to mitigate them.

An ally who amplifies their colleagues’ voices and advocates for their needs, taking concrete actions to address bias and discrimination whenever it arises, shows they are aware of their own privilege and want to develop strategies for improvement.

So, what are we doing at SmartestEnergy?

Encouraging Allyship

As part of our SmartestBalance initiative, we have recently started an Allyship campaign, to support our employees on their allyship journey and build a community.

Within this campaign, we provide courses on key topics including inclusivity and bias and psychological safety to educate and empower our employees, as well as hosting internal events to bring our people together, encourage open conversations, and give others an opportunity to ask questions without judgement.

Earlier this month, we were pleased to invite Hazel Harrison, clinical psychologist at Think Avellana, to our Canary Wharf office, to hold a face-to-face seminar on psychological safety, sharing her expertise on what psychological safety really looks like in the workplace, and how we can recognise psychological safety in our company's values.

Celebrating our People

Pride month is all about embracing diversity and celebrating our differences. We are now pleased to have eight community steering groups, one of which is our Diverse Sexualities and Genders (DSG) group, which has grown significantly over the past few years. This week, members from the DSG group came together for their first group face to face gathering in London to celebrate Pride and to meet with a Stonewall representative to discuss their Diversity Champion opportunities.

As we move forwards, we remain focused on our people and building a strong community of allies and we will continue to take targeted and purposeful action to see the change that we aspire to achieve.