The words that come to mind when people think of “an ally” might go towards combat, war, or sports. However, to keep it more on the simple side, an ally is someone who will have your back no matter what the circumstance. Whether being mindful of cultural and identity differences, or helping mentees advance in their careers, mentors and business owners have made it a point to show up for their customers and employees. According to Forbes, “allyship is good for business.” Your business working as an ally for different demographics needing support or community is directly correlated to customer and employee satisfaction, productivity, business profitability, innovation, and outcomes. Customers and employees will keep a close watch as to how much your business is keeping up with the current times in every aspect, especially aspects that incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion. This blog will talk about how your business can be a great ally for its customers and employees.
The first step to a successful allyship is to educate yourself. Talk to customers. Talk to employees. Please find a way to immerse yourself in their cultural backgrounds. Find ways to actively diversify your networks. Forbes also suggests “to read books on the history of systemic inequality, immerse yourself in stories of people who have different backgrounds and experiences than yourself.” Customers and employees want to associate themselves with a business that advocates equal treatment and welcomes diversity with open arms. Businesses need to do their homework. No doubt, it is tempting to ask anyone a direct question about their experience of being mistreated. But not everyone is comfortable talking about it. Harvard Business Review suggests that “when you do talk to others about the obstacles they’ve faced, start by requesting their permission.” Should they grant it to you, broach the subject with discretion and humility. An ally makes it a point to recognize that not everyone will have the same experiences as the other person. Instead, they would make it a point to talk to as many people as possible and not compare the stories that they hear.
Don’t Assume What Others Need
According to Forbes, “what one person needs in terms of allyship may look different from another, so asking what one needs is an important step.” Making assumptions will only lead to sour relationships. Businesses need to be able to retain their customers and employees rather than experience turnover. This means asking questions like the following:
- What advice do you have for me to truly be an ally for people from your community? I want to do better.
- I am curious about people from your community. How can my business meet or advocate for their needs and expectations?
- What can my business do to be more welcoming to people in your community?
- There are so many challenges that members of a marginalized community face. Do you know of any helpful resources so that I can learn more for my organization to do better?
Questions like the ones above show that your business cares about how your customers and employees are treated. Marginalized communities are not always noticed and recognized as they should be. Actively interacting with and reaching out to them rather than assuming what they need will allow your business to build a good reputation with these communities.
Be an Active Listener
Forbes mentions that “allyship is about being conscious and intentional, and that means learning to truly listen to others.” Genuine allyship starts with active listening. Active listening refers to the practice of preparing to listen with your full undivided attention, observing both the verbal and non-verbal messages being sent across, and providing the appropriate response at the end of the conversation. Most people tend to make blank claims that they are “not racist” or “not homophobic” to show that they are open-minded, active listeners. However, this doesn’t necessarily prove your business to be an inclusive and brave space for people of all communities and identities. Deliberately asking for feedback on your actions and behaviors shows that you want to do better and be a better active listener. Customers and employees want to feel validated and appreciated. This means developing and maintaining a trusting relationship.
Bring In Diversity
It’s not easy being an underdog in your sector of business. Feelings of imposter syndrome are inevitable. This is when attracting diverse stakeholders becomes your trump card. Hiring managers and recruiters are always on the prowl for a fresh batch of recruits that bring in new ideas for their business to grow. Similarly, with customer experience, attracting a variety of customers from different communities will allow your business to maintain a positive and stable reputation in the public eye as well as attract potential new customers and new partnerships for your business to grow.
Be an Upstander
No business is immune to problems. More importantly, no business should be a bystander to problems. Let’s look at customer experience. One possible scenario could be a customer acting aggressively towards an employee for no apparent reason. The store is surrounded by a crowd of other customers who witness the incident. Rather than being a bystander to the situation by just standing by, someone should call the manager of the store to take immediate action like asking the customer to either apologize to the employee or to leave the store. Similarly, with employee experience, Harvard Business Review suggests business leaders should “vigilantly monitor their workplace for homophobic, racist or sexist comments and behavior, and then be clear and decisive in shutting them down.” Waiting for employees to react will only add fuel to the fire. When a victim is experiencing any aggression at work, find ways to give them your support.
Understanding the Impact of Allyship Through PxidaX
In the customer and employee experience, building relationships and communities between the business and these stakeholder audiences are key. By understanding the impact your business can have as an ally, you can build stronger relationships by better defining what your business stands for. Allyship and support for marginalized or minority communities is a great way to showcase the values of your business. Your employees and customers can then provide targeted feedback on how they view your company culture and image. Gathering this helpful feedback is easy with a product like PxidaX on your side. Set up surveys targeted to gather brand image feedback and deploy them to the people you want to gather this data from. Give PxidaX a try today with a free trial of our platform!