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Pride stories: Being an ally reaches more people than I’d imagined

During Pride month, we’re exploring the importance of our LGBT+ colleagues being seen and heard

Read how Deloitte US partner, Kwasi is an active ally every day.

Visibility. Being seen and heard every day. For our LGBT+ colleagues, this is ultimately about basic human rights and decency.

Something that drives my commitment to allyship is the need to help create change for traditionally marginalised communities and ensuring we don’t look the other way. We can’t allow ourselves to be silent bystanders as people we care about; family, friends, colleagues, may face discrimination or be put into a challenging position.

It’s for this reason that, to me, ensuring that people are seen and heard is a key part of being thoughtful and deliberate about protecting and safeguarding LGBT+ rights.

When I met the parents of a transgender colleague at Pride in Washington DC a couple of years ago, the power we have as allies was really brought home to me. I’ve been active in Diversity & Inclusion issues for some time and already knew the importance of allyship to supporting LGBT+ inclusion. And I’ve been fortunate to get to know many of our trans and non-binary colleagues from across the organisation and am constantly inspired. But meeting this team member’s parents opened my eyes to an even broader aspect of allyship I hadn’t fully considered.

They told me how happy they were knowing that their child was being supported by leaders like me who were focused on trans issues and how reassured they felt that their child was in a safe space at Deloitte US. This helped me realise that, when you’re an ally, you’re not just an ally to a community or an individual, but you’re also an ally to people’s family and friends.

This underlined the impact of my allyship and reaffirmed my personal commitment. Understanding how allyship can cascade down from an individual to the people around them shows how vital it is to not sit passively on the sidelines, but pro-actively engage.

Important ways for me to be an ally are through listening, advocating, and increasing understanding across the organisation and outside of it. As a Principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP and Chief Purpose Officer of Deloitte US, I know that I am in a privileged position to raise awareness and highlight the challenges faced by our LGBT+ colleagues and be part of finding a solution. Allyship is not just for leaders, it’s for everyone. We all have a role to play and it starts by educating ourselves, helping to educate others and speaking up to help create positive change. There are impactful, simple things we can do on a daily basis to help break down barriers to understanding and have a tremendous impact.

The response from other leaders at Deloitte US to my advocacy has been phenomenal and we have an opportunity to continue to advocate. Many people aren’t always aware of the issues our LGBT+, and especially trans and non-binary, colleagues face and the journey they’ve been on. If I can help lift some of the burden faced by my LGBT+ colleagues in having to explain the challenges they face too many times, then I’m on the right path as an ally. By using my voice to amplify the needs of others, I can help people know they’re not alone.

We often think of people having privilege as a bad thing, but it can be channelled into allyship and supporting others not just during Pride month, but year-round.

Kwasi Mitchell (he/him), Deloitte US

Be your whole self. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud.