The Importance of Allyship in Mentoring

1 minutes

We are thrilled to present insights from Kevin Dainty, a vocal advocate for allyship and the manager of the Women in Technology Mentoring Programme, powered by Guider mentoring software. Kevin brings a wealth of experience and dedication to creating inclusive learning environments through purposeful allyship.

What is allyship?

Allyship refers to the practice of actively supporting and advocating for groups or individuals who may be marginalised or discriminated against. It involves using one’s privilege to help others gain visibility and opportunities, while also working to understand and address systemic inequalities. True allyship is a proactive, consistent, and often challenging journey towards creating a more equitable society.

What is allyship in the workplace?

In the workplace, allyship plays a critical role in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. It entails individuals from dominant or majority groups using their influence, positions, or resources to champion and support underrepresented colleagues. This can manifest through various actions, such as advocating for fair policies, participating in diversity initiatives, mentoring, and simply being open to learning and listening. Effective allyship in the workplace not only enhances career opportunities for individuals but also contributes to a more inclusive and dynamic organizational culture.

The importance of allyship for Reed

Q. What is the importance of allyship and what does it mean to you (Reed)? 

Almost all businesses are looking to create more diverse teams and allyship plays a crucial role in this. It is impossible to be successful in creating truly inclusive workspaces that are attractive to and supportive of people from diverse/minority groups if those in the majority groups aren’t good allies. Reed has a purpose of “improving lives through work”, simply connecting people to employment opportunities, as is our job as a recruiter, does not satisfy this brief, we have to be influencing the development of better working environments for these people so that their lives are improved by the opportunities we connect them to. Coming back to my initial point, allyship is key to this

Allyship for women in technology 

Q. What role do male allies play in supporting women in technology?

Men make up approximately 75% of the IT workforce, so are hugely influential on shaping the culture of those teams and workplaces. There are a variety of ways that men can be allies to their female colleagues, such as being part of their women’s network or other similar employee resources groups, being an active sponsor for women in the business, being available as a mentor, challenging behaviour that negatively impacts female colleagues. The key though is to ask questions and be a good listener, to try and understand what support is actually wanted and not make assumptions about how to be an ally.

Q. What specific strategies or initiatives have been implemented within the WiT programme to promote engagement and allyship?

From the early days of our women in tech mentoring programme we have made it a community that welcomes and encourages support from male allies. We do this by actively seeking out male mentors, facilitating and contributing to discussions about allyship and ensuring that all of our activities and events are open to both female and male participants.

Common challenges 

Q. In your experience, what are some common challenges or barriers to allyship, and how are they addressed?

One of the most common barriers to allyship is fear of how it will be received by others. Taking the example of male colleagues supporting women in tech. Will offers of support be rejected or challenged by the women you are trying to be an ally to, and will men in your team mock what you are doing.

Similarly to what I said earlier the key to this is asking the right questions and listening to the responses. Rather than diving in like a white knight to solve the problems of a female colleague, start by asking if your help would be appreciated and if so what that might look like. Another strategy to avoid the fear of rejection is to simply make yourself more visible as a potential ally and wait for your support to be requested, this could be achieved by being an active member of the internal women’s network or making yourself available via any internal mentoring initiatives. The minority group also has to hold itself to account in this regard, buy creating space for allyship to occur, being welcoming of external voices and inviting allies to support when they can.

In regards to fear of the reaction from other men, I am inclined to simply say “get over it”. If this helps at all I would say in my experience the fear is often unfounded. The vast majority of men I encounter working in tech would also consider themselves to be allies and the sooner we are all proud to state it, the sooner the negative minority will be the ones that have a fear to express their non-progressive views.

Guider’s solution 

Q. How does Guider technology facilitate and enhance the practice of allyship within the mentoring programme?

Guider enables allyship for us, by providing a safe space for male allies to offer their support as a mentor without the fear of rejection. Mentors simply list themselves as available to mentor, then it is up to the individual mentee to select the person they would like to get support from. Thanks to the data provided by Guider we are also able to easily monitor how sought after male mentorship is, through the choices our mentees are making, and I am happy to report that our male mentors are just as likely to be requested as are our female mentors.

Q. Can you share any success stories or examples where allyship has played a significant role in professional development?

So many users have shared what an incredible opportunity this has been, to be able to receive and give help freely. Some refer to it as a community, an opportunity to connect and learn from others – see Natalie and Greg’s testimonials for instance. 

Q. Can you share any future plans for this community? 

Although starting out purely as a mentoring programme, since partnering with Guider we have been able to become so much more, now under the name the “Reed Women in Technology Community”. As Guider gives our members the ability to self serve, it has significantly reduced the time burden of running a mentoring programme. This enables us to reinvest that time elsewhere. For us this has meant being able to invest that time into activities that bring our members together as a community, sharing their knowledge on a wider basis through things like weekly webinars/workshops & group coaching sessions and running both in person and virtual networking events. Our focus this year is to increase the frequency of our in person events, especially for those members in the often underrepresented regions of the country.

Interested in learning how you could provide psychologically safe allyship within your organisation?

Speak to one of our expert team today to see how easy this could be. 

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