Don’t do it for your daughter.

I heard a story recently where a (very well intentioned) individual said he felt compelled to speak up about sexual harassment he witnessed at work because he had a daughter. He felt that by coming forward in this situation involving a female coworker, he was taking a step so his daughter would have a better future.

First off, let’s congratulate the individual because he came forward. No matter how much training we offer or sit through on workplace harassment, no matter how much we preach that if you “see something, say something,” it definitely takes guts to come forward.

But let’s pause for a moment and look at the professed motivation. Some would say that the motivation for the action doesn’t matter. What matters is that he took action. True. However, he came forward for his daughter, so she would not face similar harassment in some hypothetical future workplace. Not so much because his coworker was put in an unacceptable and untenable situation because of her gender… today.

This made me think about the concept of allyship, which we hear so much about. According to one Forbes article, allyship is the “key to unlocking the power of diversity.” It has many definitions, but basically refers to using one’s power or position to advocate for those from marginalized social groups. Allyship can take many forms, from being a mentor, advocate, promoter, or just taking the time to learn more about a marginalized group and their struggles.

Our workplaces need to foster a culture of advocacy and allyship. And this need not begin and end with affinity groups, celebrations for black history month, or data analytics and eradication of statistically significant disparities. This requires more. Today requires more. Today requires real action, real (and nonjudgmental) conversations in the workplace to understand where the underrepresented and unprivileged come from and what they need. And then take real steps to make change happen. Rattle the cage. Foster leaders who advocate not just for the shining star that looks and acts like them. But advocate for those who may need some buffing to shine. Advocate not for your coworkers because you have a child or friend or (fill in the blank of someone else you know) who looks like them. Actively advocate for employees who deserve you as their ally!

Don’t do it just for your daughter. Do it for your current, existing coworkers who may be subjected to situations you think should change now. They are worthy of support. Your support. That is, if you think they deserve a workplace which values them for who they are as well as their talents.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been the bedrock of our firm since we opened over 75 years ago. As we like to say, it is in our DNA. We believe that to foster diverse leadership and urge diversity of thought, we must do what we can to advance the conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging in the workplace and the communities in which our workplaces thrive. Through our blog, we share our insights from the perspective of both an employer and employee, regarding emerging issues that affect diverse leaders and workforces. We hope you enjoy our tidbits of legal and practical information, wisdom, and humor. Thanks for joining the conversation!


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