Allyship in the workplace

June 5, 2023

An LGBTQ+ allyship flag.
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In many countries around the globe, June marks Pride Month, an annual celebration of the wide-ranging societal contributions made by individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ+). The timing commemorates New York City’s Stonewall Riots, a landmark in the gay rights/liberation movement, in June 1969. As members of the LGBTQ+ community and co-chairs of Sedgwick’s LGBTQ+ Colleague Resource Group (CRG), we are proud to lead the organization and join millions across the world in observing Pride Month.

Earlier this year, our counterparts who lead Sedgwick’s Black Colleague Resource Group blogged about how observances like Black History Month and Pride Month are important to Sedgwick’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy, as well as the philosophy behind CRGs, our version of employee resource groups (ERGs). Building on those important themes, here we will explore the significance of the LGBTQ+ CRG to us personally and professionally and offer recommendations on ways to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented groups.

Driving inclusion and belonging

Consider these workforce statistics regarding LGBTQ+ employees:

  • 1 in 3 feels exhausted from spending time and energy to hide or protect aspects of their identity at work (LinkedIn study).
  • 75% say it’s important that they work for an organization where they feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work (LinkedIn study).
  • 82% believe that allyship helps them to be out at work (Deloitte survey).

Everyone deserves to be welcomed, valued, respected and heard at work for being exactly who they are. Having a resource group dedicated to LGBTQ+ colleagues and their allies sends the important message that our organization is a safe place where people can be their authentic selves and find the resources they need. It provides invaluable opportunities for fellowship and mentorship, education, career growth and development. The CRG also enables us to give visibility and a voice to our LGBTQ+ people. It’s incredibly meaningful for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their allies to see and hear from others who have achieved professional success while being embraced for who they are.

We want everyone to be fully engaged in our workplace and to know that they matter. People perform at their best where they feel included and a strong sense of belonging — where they can simply be themselves. CRGs give all colleagues the freedom to do just that.

Organizational support

Sponsoring colleague resource groups is one significant way employers demonstrate that they value LGBTQ+ individuals and others, but it’s not the only way. Here are some additional organizational strategies for fostering cultures of inclusion and supporting diverse colleague populations:

  • Executive sponsorship: A culture of inclusion and allyship must emanate from the highest ranks of the organization. Leaders of all backgrounds can serve as active advocates for and allies to the LGBTQ+ and other communities, even if they’re not members — as long as they have genuine passion and are committed to positive action.
  • Inclusive benefits: Employee benefits that support a range of individual and family needs signal to employees and job candidates that the organization is committed to DEI. These include but are not limited to domestic partner eligibility, mental health coverage, gender-affirming care and recognition of various paths to building and caring for families.
  • Policies: Inclusive people practices are embedded in organizational policies, such as zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment and unfair administration of employment actions. Sedgwick has policies in place to ensure fair treatment for all, such as a policy whereby refusing to respect a colleague’s stated preference by deliberately misgendering them (using pronouns that do not accurately reflect their gender identity) constitutes harassment. That is a strong message of support and safety for the transgender community.
  • Training: In order to hold people accountable for upholding certain behaviors, it’s critical to provide the necessary training and education. Organizations committed to the DEI journey must educate their workforce about the value of DEI, recognizing and managing unconscious bias, avoiding microaggressions and other relevant topics.

Paths to allyship

LGBTQ+ allies show their support by promoting equality. Allyship focuses on everyday choices that raise awareness, challenge assumptions, and question stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people. Identifying as an ally isn’t a label. Rather, it’s a demonstration of values: While I may not be LGBTQ+, LGBTQ+ issues are important to me, too.

There’s no one way to be an LGBTQ+ ally. All aspects of allyship are important and effective. Here are a few ways we recommend taking action:

  • Practice listening: Give people who are different from you opportunities to share their personal experiences. The more you listen, the more you can be empathetic and open your mind to other perspectives.
  • Share your pronouns: Normalizing the practice of including gender pronouns (such as he/him/his, she/her/hers or gender-neutral they/them/theirs) in your professional email signature or LinkedIn profile makes it easier for transgender individuals to do so. It’s a seemingly small step that goes a long way to fostering inclusion and helping others feel respected.
  • Use inclusive language: Be deliberate in your word choices to avoid making heteronormative assumptions about anyone’s gender identity or sexuality. For instance, it’s preferable to ask a colleague whether they have a partner, rather than presuming they’re paired with a husband or a wife.
  • Avoid being performative: It’s not enough to post multicolored flags and logos for Pride Month (a phenomenon referred to as “rainbow washing”). True allyship is a year-round commitment. Get involved by attending or sponsoring an event in support of the LGBTQ+ community, speaking up against myths and stereotypes, and respecting people’s boundaries and privacy.

Diversity, equity and inclusion require the support and commitment of allies. By identifying as an ally, you’re taking important steps toward creating more inclusive workplaces for all.

Special thanks to Heather Lawley, global head of DEI and ESG, for her valuable contributions to this blog.

Learn more — explore opportunities for a meaningful career at Sedgwick, find a Pride Month event near you, and visit and for more information on the LGBTQ+ community

Tags: DEI, Diversity & Inclusion, employee experience, inclusion, inclusivity, LGBTQ+, workplace