Lessons in Allyship: North Highland Celebrates Pride with Changemakers

To wholeheartedly fulfill our mantra—Make Change Happen—North Highland must be bold. We must show up for our employees, clients, partners, and the communities we serve.

It’s something that a lot of you feel strongly about too. Seventy-three percent of companies in our annual Beacon report said that diversity and inclusion is one of their strategic priorities for the year, with the wellness and safety of their workforce as another focus area for 75 percent.

So, to delve further into how we can all be more supportive as organizations, and to celebrate Pride Month, our recent Insight Talk webinar took an explorative look at how to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

Exploring experiences

We were honored to host two incredible changemakers, Nigel Owens MBE (ex-Rugby Union referee) and Daniella Carter (LGBTQ+ activist), as they shared their fascinating journeys towards becoming their complete selves. With full transparency, they uncovered the heartbreaking truths around the impact of other people’s expectations—including themes of suicide and rape. And while LGBTQ+ activism wasn’t on either of their initial agendas, consistent shame, ignorance, and hatred aimed at their community made it their mission.

Being a black trans woman in the workplace, Carter has often encountered superficial allyship. This has come in various forms, from learned colloquialisms that are rehashed publicly to offered allyship by those who previously didn’t know she was trans and made a clear point to state this. Her reply? “Oh my God, I didn’t know I had to tell you. I shouldn’t have to tell you to have your support.”

Owens’ story is similar. He was a bystander to offensive language in a hyper-masculine industry, with the perpetrators unaware he was gay. Now, he tackles the tough conversations head-on to educate and help people understand—if they’re willing to listen.

North Highland’s Global Financial Services Lead and Pride Alliance Sponsor Jill Jacques, and UK  Financial Services Lead and I&D Executive Sponsor Alex Grant, shared their own experiences while moderating the discussion. As a gay woman, Jill knew after completing graduate school that coming out at work could lead to her dismissal. And as an ally, Alex has doubled down on his support in the last 18 months, further motivated by the positive effect it has on those who receive it.

How to take pride in your workplace

To help everyone show up as effective allies for the LGBTQ+ community, our guests shared some meaningful advice: 

  • Being an ally doesn’t require you to be an expert
  • Being an allied leader means making structural changes, showing employees you are standing by them, and providing a platform—through no personal benefit
  • Allyship can be hard—you’ll get it wrong and make mistakes, but these difficulties are nothing compared to those who will benefit from your support
  • Be willing to have tough conversations and be open to understanding
  • Self-awareness is crucial for allyship
  • An inclusive workplace will never look like a sea of sameness
  • Being an ally means you’re joining a revolution

North Highland Principal Dr. Kelli Klindtworth added her two cents too. "In recent years, we have seen organizations take positions on social issues to help set the agenda and shape the path forward. It’s more important than ever before to create a culture that you and your workforce are proud of—one where employees can show up entirely as themselves and where customers want to do business.

“In organizations where there’s courage to take a stand, employees show conviction in collaborating, strategizing, and decision-making, even when the next steps may be uncertain."

The webinar was an eye-opening success, as we push towards making change happen across the spectrum. Why not listen to the replay? Click here.

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Take Pride In Your Workplace: How To Be A Better Ally