What can be done to prevent employees from shedding their identities at work, which disadvantages them, their teams, and their organizations?

The longer I have led teams and worked in diversity and inclusion, the more certain I am that one of the best ways to foster a thriving workforce and drive outperformance is to create a culture of allyship around our people. 

Advancing allyship is not something that’s nice to do—it’s a business imperative and a commercial differentiator for companies.

Research from McKinsey shows that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 33% likelier to garner industry-leading profitability. However, sustaining diversity at companies requires intentional actions to foster inclusion and belonging.

In a fast-paced global economy, our most precious resource is our ability to connect meaningfully with each other. To have trust even when we don’t agree. To build commonality across difference. To challenge each other and create innovation along the way. To identify gaps in our personal and professional relationships and narrow inequity.

At Goldman Sachs, I have had the opportunity and privilege to channel my passion and build further on the firm’s long-standing commitment to inclusion through our people-first strategy.

Allyship is core to my personal experience. I am an Afro-Latina woman. The granddaughter of Dominican immigrants. A first-generation college student and the mother of a child with learning differences. Over the course of my life, these aspects of my identity have had a profound impact on how I navigate the world. They have affected what schools I attended; my confidence, or lack thereof, in certain institutions; what accommodations I needed to take care of my family. And when challenges arose, I overcame them because of allies. Were it not for colleagues and mentors who prioritized understanding and respecting my personal lived experience, I wouldn’t be on this stage.

My experience explains why building organizations and communities where each individual feels valued, seen, and appreciated is of profound importance to me.

On Nov. 1, Goldman Sachs is holding its inaugural Advancing Allyship conference—the first of its kind on Wall Street—which will bring together renowned thought leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion to collectively advance our commitments toward allyship for our employees and in our communities.

Also, we will be releasing a series of Allyship guides for clients and companies to help foster a culture of inclusion. Our everyday actions, attitudes, and language set the tone for the people around us—sending a clear signal to our colleagues that they belong.

Together we have ambitious goals, and these guides introduce best practices we can all leverage to advance allyship, including…

  • Engage with a growth mindset in dialogue on equity and inclusive growth. Build your awareness and seek diverse perspectives.
  • Act to foster including and belonging within our organizations every day, not just in moments of crisis. Break out of thinking traps, be an upstander, and amplify different voices.  
  • Empower allyship within our communities to drive social impact. Take responsibility for driving change, even when it feels hard and uncomfortable. That’s when it matters most.

After the murder of George Floyd, a rise in anti-Asian violence and anti-Semitic hate crimes, and the glaring inequities brought about by a pandemic, I believe we all felt the world unraveling.

There were many calls to action. Courageous conversations were had. Checks were written. Commitments were made. But candidly, that was in a time of crisis.

What do we do when the dust settles? And more important, had we been more focused on allyship and understanding before these events, what crises could we have avoided as a society? What do we stand to lose if we don’t make progress? What does everyday allyship look like?

These are hard questions. And I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m going to keep asking for them. And my hope is through meaningful conversations and constant dialogue, we get closer to advancing the dialogue and solutions over time.

Anyone can be an ally, and everyone deserves an ally. I encourage corporate America to embrace advancing allyship. Everybody benefits.

Megan Hogan is chief diversity officer at Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs is a partner of Fortune Most Powerful Women.

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