“If we are lucky enough to be in a position of power, if our voice and our actions can mobilise change, don't we have a special obligation? Being an ally can't just be about nodding when someone says something we agree with - important as that is. It must also be about action” - Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States of America.
Rightly said by Harris, allyship indeed is about mobilising change, through action. While organisations across the globe have been amplifying their message around being LGBT+ inclusive, one key aspect enabling that move has been the focus on ‘Allyship’. Onboarding LGBT+ talent has been a core area of focus for employers, however, to ensure that hiring diverse talent doesn’t just become a tick in the box, allyship has a crucial role to play.
Many companies continue to struggle on shifting the needle when it comes to LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace, and allyship remains that untapped tool that can fast track the move. Helping organisations strengthen their efforts in this direction is Pride Circle, India’s leading LGBT+ Diversity and Inclusion organisation.
Through their annual Allyship Challenge - which takes place every year during the Pride Month - Pride Circle empowers employers and their workforce to be the torchbearers of change by focusing on education, conversation and action.
The philosophy behind the Ally Challenge is gamifying the ‘Allyship Journey’ in a self-paced virtual environment, thereby driving curiosity, engagement, learning and application, all together. With June 2022 around the corner, let’s find out what Pride Circle has in store for organisations at the Global Ally Challenge 2022.
Ally Challenge: The What + How
Allyship involves unlearning and de-conditioning a lifetime of our own social and cultural conditioning before supporting and championing the underrepresented.
It isn’t just about showing support in one conversation or surfacing during Pride Month, it is an ongoing journey of unlearning bias, building a sense of equity, and building an ecosystem of visible and vocal support for those who are caught on the other side of privilege.
Furthering the above agenda, Pride Circle’s annual Ally Challenge is aimed at educating & sensitising participants about LGBT+ Allyship through a series of fun and engaging online challenges. The challenge was launched in 2020 with three key objectives:
- Build a community of passionate LGBT+ Allies
- Recognise & neutralise biases and Stereotypes
- Create holistic learning & Impact
“At Pride Circle, we’re deeply invested in education and creating awareness about LGBT+ issues and the struggles faced by the community. In our experience, we’ve seen that individuals spark progressive change when they are given a nudge to do something beyond reading. The Ally Challenge prompts people to engage in tasks that help them understand the LGBT+ community better, essentially pushing them from awareness to action. And allyship is equal parts awareness and action,” said Srini Ramaswamy, C-Founder, Pride Circle and Pride Circle Foundation.
“Allyship will heal the world, and AllyChallenge will help you learn others perspectives, introspect and become an ally,” he added.
Through engaging gamification over a period of 21 days, the Global Ally Change in its first year, garnered participation from 12,750 allies across 108 organisations representing 58 countries.
Open and free for all, the platform invites professionals to participate as individuals or as an organisation or in groups and keep tabs on their progress as they undergo a week-long series of micro-challenges, impactful storytelling, dynamic leaderboards and activities celebrating Pride Month. Participants earn points by completing each challenge as well as by referring people in their network to sign-up and participate.
The aspect of DEI programming is now gathering pace with leaders and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocates who aim to accelerate their efforts in this direction. This is where the scope and impact of Ally Challenge comes in.
Ally Challenge: From Awareness to Action
As highlighted in the CEI 2021 report, employers have recognised that beyond the letter of a policy, additional programming and educational efforts are necessary to foster LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace. Here are some reassuring statistics from CEI 2021 on where the world of work stands today with respect to LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace:
- 92% of CEI-rated employers offer a robust set of practices (at least three efforts) to support organisational LGBTQ diversity competency
- 94% of CEI-rated employers have an employee resource group or diversity council that includes LGBTQ and allied employees and programming
With such a spotlight on implementation of DEI programming, it is no surprise that the world of work has been quick to respond to the opportunity extended by Pride Circle to mobilise allyship.
“We did it (the Ally Challenge) and I’m happy with the results! This is not about checking the boxes or learning definitions. The learning in the #AllyChallenge is designed to reflect deeper, something that we pay very little attention to in this fast-paced life,” Infosys’ Global Head of D&I, Head of Sustainability, Governance and Reporting, Aruna C Newton, said.
One of the biggest reasons behind the successful track record of Ally Challenge is the power of gamification - a group challenge with tasks, resources and rewards is a better way to educate folks and prompt them to embrace and practice allyship.
Two other factors that the success can be attributed to include self-reflection and fostering belonging:
- Self-reflection: Through the tasks and reference materials, participants are able to reflect on some of their own conscious or unconscious biases, some of the discimination they have faced, and understand better how exclusionary practices negatively impact the LGBT+ community.
- Builds belonging: A sense of community among participants and between allies and their LGBT+ counterparts, leading to understanding, acceptance and action.
“I wish we could continue the challenge throughout the year and engage the employees on this. We’ve had a number of pieces of feedback from various stakeholders around continuing to strengthen this kind of engagement. I think this whole piece about gamifying learning is clearly a wonderful way to initiate some action in that regard,” Newton added.
What’s in it for you?
“I had a preconceived notion that it was not an easy feat to convince someone to be an ally. But this campaign has changed my mind about that. By just explaining about how the #AllyChallenge by Pride Circle works, I could bring people on-board to participate and thus, become allies. This part of the experience was the most rewarding,” shared Suryam Gorli, Winner of AllyChallenge 2021.
While initiatives like Ally Challenge help build the much needed momentum around enabling authentic inclusion, the buy-in of the workforce and consistent efforts is what makes it an everyday reality. This is where innovative approaches that include opportunities to learn more in a community setting ( with team members, friends, family) shine bright. Not to forget the spirit of competition on the global leaderboard as an individual and/or organisation while learning about LGBT+ allyship.
With true equity years away, allyship is one weapon to counter further breeding of bias and discrimination.
How effectively organisations empower allies, and how sincerely allies take up the responsibility to stand up against discrimination is critical to sustainable LGBT+ inclusion.
Pride Circle’s Ally Challenge 2022 will take place from June 20 - June 26 2022. Registrations will open on June 13 2022.