You may have heard the terms “ally” or “ally” much more recently. The concept has been around for decades, but has taken on new meaning in recent years. Allyship holds us accountable for supporting and including marginalized groups. It is not defined by a single moment, but by an ongoing commitment.
June is Pride Month, but the real change comes when the covenant is practiced year-round and integrated into the daily ways we support and interact with others. History has shown that the private sector has been a key driver in promoting fair opportunities, workplace protections and social benefits at times when public policy was deficient. Bank of America continues to foster a culture of inclusion through its Allies Program of more than 30,000 employees, which addresses the needs of LGBTQ+ co-workers and issues that drive positive change and makes our workplace stand out. feel safe so everyone can get to work.
Surrounding yourself with people of different backgrounds and identities strengthens relationships, stimulates creativity, and changes the way you think and approach problems. Whether you’re building a team at work or establishing a group of friends, be intentional about where you hang out and who you align with. By diversifying your experiences, you broaden your network and your vision of the world.
Engage in uncomfortable conversations with the intention of absorbing rather than responding. Be aware when you are tempted to react defensively and take a step back. Talk to people, not them. Only then can we truly listen with empathy and understand rather than judge.
Open and honest dialogue can help us better understand and appreciate one another, even if those conversations push the limits of our comfort level. Creating a safe space to share authentic experiences allows us to dig beneath superficial discussions and practice empathy.
By acting intentionally and following a few key benchmarks, we can ensure that we are effective allies 365 days a year. From building a diverse business to promoting equality and inclusion in our communities, the common ground and respect we find can create inclusion.
Tony Shinn is president of Bank of America Oklahoma City and Brady Bieber is head of consumer and small business employee relations.