Why your organisation needs inclusion allies

Inclusive Employers has delivered several inclusion allies programmes over the last 2 years, training more than 500 inclusion allies across different sectors, business sizes and levels of inclusion maturity. Addison Barnett, Head of Inclusion & Diversity Services (South), reflects on the success of the programme and what being a true inclusion ally actually means.

What it means to be an inclusion ally

“If a person does nothing in the face of racial inequities that are pervasive, if they don’t challenge them, what are they doing?”

Ibram X. Kendi

Having personally delivered a large proportion of Inclusive Employers’ inclusion allies training, it’s one of my favourite programmes. The commitment from the inclusion allies is inspiring; it’s wonderful to see these inclusion allies grow themselves as a network, challenge themselves and their organisation, use their privilege and influence to keep inclusion on the agenda, and have deep, genuine discussions around complex inclusion topics.

In the wider world, the conversation around allies has matured in the last 18 months. One of the gifts of the increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement has been more scrutiny of what allyship really means: when we refer to ourselves as allies what are we actually doing? Is it a badge we give ourselves to make us feel good, or is there conscious commitment there to challenging the status quo and taking action?

Similar to being anti-racist: it is no longer good enough to simply be an ally to marginalised groups. We must examine our privilege, power and influence and make amends for our mistakes. Those of us who hold more privilege e.g. because we are White, in senior positions or not disabled must be prepared to give up the platforms our privilege gives us. ‘Ally’ is a verb not a noun.

Our inclusion allies programme

[On organisational change] “Don’t boil the ocean – while you reach “stickiness” once you surpass 50%, about 15% of your organization is enough to build material momentum toward change.”

John Kotter

Our inclusion allies training is designed to empower colleagues across your business to act in allyship for minority groups, role model inclusion, break down silos, and help drive inclusion forward. The programme will help you build a network of inclusion allies across your organisation who can help drive cultural change, helping you reach the 15% (and beyond) needed to really drive momentum on inclusion.

The programme takes place over 4 weeks, with a range of learning opportunities including live and recorded webinars, an inclusion allies workbook and a buddy system to promote discussion and secure accountability.

After the 4 week programme is complete, the inclusion allies are provided with 12 months’ post-programme support. This can include ‘inclusion surgeries’ with one of the Inclusive Employers experts to problem solve and workshop solutions, additional resource libraries for self-service learning, and additional bespoke training covering key topics identified by the inclusion allies.

We designed the inclusion allies programme to have maximum impact for the small time commitment. We recommend inclusion allies set aside around 2 hours a week for the 4 week programme. It’s a light touch, high impact programme.

What’s the impact of the inclusion allies programme

We have worked with many organisations of all sizes and sectors to run inclusion allies programmes in their business. A 2021 survey of Inclusion Allies found:

  • 90% of Allies programme graduates reported that completing the programme supported them to be more inclusive at work
  • 76% of Allies programme graduates agreed that completing the programme had changed their behaviour
  • 80% ranked themselves as confident or very confident to step in when they witness exclusion, compared to 25% feeling able to step in before the programme

When asked to rate themselves against the following statement “I feel confident to step in when I witness exclusion” before the programme and after.

Before the Inclusion Allies programme, participants were:

After the Inclusion Allies programme, participants were:

The Inclusion Allies have gone on to make real change in their workplace: facilitating conversations, connecting departments, promoting good practice and positively challenging themselves and their colleagues. Most of all, they role model the curiosity and humility required of inclusion allies to support minority voices in their organisation.

If you’d like to know more about our inclusion allies programme, please speak to your account manager or get in touch via our events enquiry form.