‘Soda, lemon, ginger pop, we want Allies on the top!’ is one of the compelling jingles that stayed with me from last week’s Pride Parade at SAP Labs India in the presence of German Consul General Achim Burkart-led German Business Group. As an Ally, I’ve come to realise that allyship is neither a title nor an identity, it’s rather a journey. It is a constant process of education, reflection and action, that must be integrated into every aspect of one’s life. It goes back to developing a true understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community, their history and terminology, as well as making conscious efforts to be respectful and inclusive in the everyday exchanges. More so because discrimination is not always obvious. It is not always a physical or verbal attack; it can take many forms, such as restrictions to healthcare, education, information, and other personal benefits.
Organizations and societies need new Allies more than ever today. As more and more LGBTQIA+ peers embrace their sexual and gender identity, forward thinking and innovative workplaces need to ensure that all colleagues, irrespective of the sexual or gender orientation have the security of a safe and welcoming workplace.
This effort goes beyond policies and frameworks, and requires continued allyship from colleagues and leaders to create a reliable environment of trust where diversity and innovation thrives. Something as simple as integrating inclusive language, using gender neutral terms (without making assumptions) while meeting new people goes a long way in overcoming microagression at work and offers the LGBTQIA+ colleagues the space to be their authentic selves.
Additionally, sponsorship of senior and influential leaders is critical to having more allies at work. It helps if leaders do the work to understand what inclusion is, what the experiences of different subsets
of employees look like, and why sensitization training is critical for allyship among team members.
Here, employee resource groups can help people feel connected to a community and that they’re not an only. They can broaden the pipeline of mentorship and have a role in educating, informing, and building allyship more broadly.
To engage a new generation of workers and consumers—many of whom choose careers and products based on diversity and inclusion—organizations must move beyond public gestures of support for LGBTQ+ issues to create a more positive work experience. Additional efforts are especially needed in a world—and workplace—with the added health risks and isolation of hybrid working in the coronavirus era.
At SAP, we have one of the largest global employee networks called Pride@SAP with more than 8,000 LGBTQIA+ colleagues and allies. The gender-neutral hiring process, equal pay-equal opportunity, medical cover for gender affirmation surgery, insurance for same-sex partners is among the few services that has helped us create an inclusive workplace over the years. Much like allyship, creating an inclusive workplace is a continuous journey – one that requires empathy, passion and inclusive mindsets more than policies and frameworks.
Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India