Leveraging Allyship to Foster Inclusive Workplace Cultures

As DEI experts, we know that embedding allyship practices into an organisation is part and parcel of fostering an inclusive culture. 

Thanks to an increased public awareness on the role of diversity and inclusion in productive workplaces, this sentiment is now widely understood throughout the professional world. In fact, studies find as many as 85-95% of employees hold allyship as a personal priority. 

The issue lies in execution. These same reports state that only 14% of people have actionable allyship plans. This lines up with findings from our own research which highlighted the gap between intention for and activation of allyship practices as a major obstacle to achieving inclusive workplaces.

People know unequivocally that allyship is not only the right thing but also the smart thing to do for increased engagement, retention, advancement and attraction of diverse talent. But without the guidance of allyship training programs, progress falls short. 

We’re here to break down the essential ways allyship training equips individuals with the tools to be effective workplace allies and help your organisation reach its goals. 

Increased Engagement

Allyship training programs provide a roadmap to open up conversations on diversity and inclusion in a pointed and intentional way, creating a psychologically safe environment for male employees to speak openly about gender equality without judgement. Research found that when men don’t feel comfortable to speak about gender equality, progress stagnates. Collective training programs take pressure off individuals who publicly challenge ideas and encourage more people to be active allies even when the conversation may be uncomfortable.

Having a framework for speaking up mitigates negative effects of the unconscious “status quo” that may have previously gone unnoticed, and helps cultivate a sense of belonging for female employees. With more allies at work, women are more likely to be engaged with their teams and individual work as well as report lower stress levels and higher productivity.

Higher Retention

​​People who work for employers that encourage allyship at work report a sense of workplace belongingness at twice the rate of those who do not, and when women know they have allies on their teams, they are over 1.5x more likely to feel safe. 

Higher rates of engagement, belonging, and safety increase the likelihood that an employee will stay with an organisation. In fact, people with at least one ally at work are almost 2x as likely to be satisfied with their company culture and job role. This increased happiness leads to higher employee retention rates by reducing instances of burnout and workplace fatigue that cause employees to leave. 

The welcoming presence of allies at work decreases the risk that women will exit an organisation due to experiences of exclusion or intolerance, and a study that the increased engagement of employees in an inclusive workplace reduces turnover by 24%

Accelerated Female Advancement

Allyship training programs teach male employees to act as sponsors rather than mentors. This is an important distinction that elevates female employee experiences, as women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored.

Training men to be allies helps them recognise opportunities to point out and thoughtfully attribute the successes of their female team members in public settings. This raises the chances that women will be noticed by managers and key decision makers for promotion opportunities. By learning to increase the recognition of female colleagues’ achievements and put women forward for positions of leadership, male allies can significantly contribute to the advancement of female talent in the workplace.

Employees themselves agree, with 92% of people report that allies have been a valuable part of their career progression. Studies also tells us that higher employee engagement can boost productivity by 17%, suggesting the presence of male allies can help women feel more connected to their work and gain motivation to develop in their careers.

Improved Attraction

A crucial part of active allyship taught in training programs is active listening. By helping your male employees understand how to open up space and hear from underrepresented employee and job candidates, your organisation can gain greater insight into what members of these communities are looking for in roles, and better create an attractive working environment. 

Allyship demonstrates a commitment to understanding and accommodating for the diverse perspectives and needs of a gender-equal workforce. Studies have proven this commitment is something that job seekers are keen to observe in potential employers, reporting that 54% of women look into a company’s DEI policies prior to joining an organisation. In this way, the implementation of allyship programs can have a byproduct of positive employer branding, positioning your organisation as an employer of choice to a diverse pool of candidates. 

Active male allies positively influence the workplace environment by promoting a culture of awareness and support for gender equal standards. Allies don’t simply impact one person or interaction at a time– their actions induce a butterfly effect by setting new standards for inclusion and inviting others to follow as they lead by example.

Feeling inspired to take allyship into your organisation? 

If you’re looking to improve rates of engagement, retention, advancement, and attraction for women in your organisation, we encourage you to connect with us. Regardless of where you are on your journey, we can support your organisation’s efforts to achieve gender-equality through allyship. 

Not sure how to get started? We’ve made it easy for you. Download this asset to help guide your conversations on implementing allyship campaigns at work.

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Written by

Haley Eagle (she/her)
Growth Marketing Coordinator


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