Activating allyship for greater inclusion in the workplace

 |   Singapore News Center

By Kevin Wo, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore

people holding up signs

Employees at Microsoft Singapore pledging their Allyship to All.

In the last few months, my colleagues and I have been going on a journey of Allyship.

Why do people think that I am less committed at work just because I am a mother? Why do I need to hide the fact that I have a lot of personal commitments to go back home to?” This is probably something you have heard from a female friend or colleague, who may also feel that they need to work harder to compensate the fact that they are a working mother.

While we have had deep conversations and taken actions as gender equality allies, there are many forms of unconscious bias that we can make intentional decisions to ally ourselves to.

It could be that single colleague who gets assigned more last-minute requests… the colleague who is weight-discriminated… or the colleague who feels left out in meetings because he or she is the only one of a different ethnicity in the room.

At Microsoft, diversity and inclusion are at the core of our culture. Allyship, together with covering and privilege, are three important concepts and tools that we leverage to help us move our conversation around diversity and inclusion forward. As we move to close the gap between our espoused culture and our lived experiences, we can all recognize our privilege, become better allies and help create safe space for everyone to be their authentic selves.

We have been using personal storytelling as a way to bring these concepts to life. Most recently, some of my colleagues shared about the parts of their authentic selves that they felt they had to minimise to fit into the mainstream at work.

I found their stories moving and inspiring and asked for their permission to share their stories.

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Before we can start to understand, empathise and act in support of others, we will need to start by being aware and curious.

The beauty of diversity is picking up ideas from others of which you never dreamed of doing yourself. And learning each other’s differences help in building a strong and connected team – our differences are our strengths.

Becoming allies don’t just make us better colleagues and managers, they make us better human beings.

Let us all be allies to our colleagues.