Inspiring Inclusion: Key Insights from Our International Women’s Month Panel

March 27, 2024

In 2024, it is crucial to recognize and prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This topic goes beyond mere acceptance – it’s about active advocacy and allyship. We recently hosted an enlightening panel discussion as part of our International Women’s Month Campaign, aimed at unraveling the nuances of creating an inclusive environment where every employee feels valued, respected and authentically engaged. 

Our moderator, Tabita Luis, brought an impressive depth of knowledge to the discussion, drawing from her 13-year journey in people management, diversity and inclusion. Her experience spans diverse organizational cultures in Latin America, the US, and Europe, offering a rich backdrop for the conversation. 

Keep reading to see our panelists delve into pivotal questions about the essence of allyship, personal experiences and practical tips for fostering inclusivity daily.

What does being an ally in the workplace mean to you, and why is it important? 

Angelina: So, for me, allyship means showing readiness to support others no matter what their background is. Also, saying, “I’m biased” in certain situations and not being judgmental. And it’s about recognizing your privilege and being willing to offer to support others, to help them succeed and grow. 

Also, my being part of this panel is already a sign of someone acting as an ally – a friend suggested I participate. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. This is what allyship is about, and it’s important to help develop an inclusive workplace where everyone can feel their best selves.

Iman: It’s important to empathize with one another and put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. It’s also about being able to go beyond our biases and acknowledging that everyone doesn’t have the same way of thinking or socializing because we come from different upbringings, different backgrounds, and different cultures.

Acknowledging all of this will help avoid what can be considered a microaggression and discomfort with situations like, “It was just a joke.” But for the other person, it’s not a joke. 

What small, everyday actions do you believe everyone can take to be better allies in the workplace?

Olga: For this question, I think we all have the same opinion. We should respect each other regardless of job and rank, even when we are personally having a bad day. Be empathetic; understand the work of others. Remind them of the importance of their value as a person and how relevant they are for the company.

Remind them that they are not only members, that they are people. We are not just numbers. Of course, we are people working together towards a common goal, but we are all humans. When you connect, you truly understand each other’s situation and challenge yourself.

Angelina: I can add a few points about online meetings. As most meetings are online now, I think it’s worth paying attention to the fact that it’s not always the same people who talk, and others feel left out. I suggest also involving others in the session so that everyone gets in time to speak up or to express their point of view on certain topics.

And related to this point, I think it’s also important when someone has some good idea or important updates to be shared with other teams. It’s beneficial for this person to participate in this meeting where it is presented or to be given a chance to present it because it helps increase their visibility and credibility among the teammates. And I think overall, it helps to develop a more inclusive meeting. It’s something that I observe and experience in our team, and it’s really good small actions that are possible and can be applied anywhere else.

Christina: It’s important to recognize that we all see each other for a short time frame when we’re here at work. But behind the scenes in our everyday lives and our lived experience so far means that we’re all sort of like, yes, we come together to do our jobs, but we are very diverse. We have different perspectives and life experiences, and that’s so positive, right? And that’s a lot of why we’re all here, right? 

The other thing is that there’s instances where you can help people in a small way, but then there’s also ways where you can help people in a big way. And it depends on what your relationship is with them. You have peer-to-peer where you can be a listening shoulder who can help somebody else. Also, if you’re in an instance where you’re managing a team or you have like the ear of senior leadership that can make some decisions, there are usually things that you can do to help others as well, like understanding what’s motivating somebody, understanding how you could potentially help them in their careers or at work.

I think that’s always really valuable, and even for people that you’re not directly managing, there’s usually an opportunity that you can help mentor and guide them. If you listen to people and ask the right questions, you can often find yourself in a position where some of your life experience or something you’ve done in your career is helpful for somebody else who may be going through something at that time.

Reece: Yeah, I think for me, it’s having awareness and asking if someone’s okay. Something that opened my eyes by my previous manager when I was having a bad day; he once said, “It’s obvious that you’re having a bad day because you’re not your usual self and you’re quiet.” People pick up on that, and it can radiate across the team if that person is not feeling good. Just having some awareness and asking if they’re okay can go a long way, or it leads to a conversation that can actually be really impactful, and it can lead to steps that can be put in place to support them, be an ally, and make things easier for them.

Asking that simple question: How are you doing? Are you okay? Can lead to a lot of positivity as an outcome.

This discussion was not just a dialogue but a call to action for every employee to become an active advocate for diversity and inclusion. As Emily Barfuss, Chief Marketing Officer at Ogury, states, “Let’s not forget that championing women shouldn’t be restricted to one day or even one month. It needs to happen every single day if real change is to be made. And it’s an ongoing commitment that requires continuous effort and dedication from each and every one of us.”

By sharing stories, reflections, and practical strategies, our panelists inspired our employees to embrace allyship in various forms. Whether it’s speaking up against discrimination, advocating for diversity in hiring practices, or simply offering a listening ear to a colleague in need, every action, no matter how small, absolutely contributes to a culture of inclusivity, encouraging a workplace where everyone feels empowered to bring their whole selves to work. 

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