Ally and LGBTQ Professionals State Their Roles In Promoting Inclusion and Countering Discrimination (Intro)

Our findings from a workshop concerning Allies and the resources we need for a diverse and inclusive work space.

Photo by Jason Behrmann
The whole point of Superman, as originally created, was to be the ally of those who had no other allies. It put that magnitude of power, the most powerful guy in the world, in the service of those who had no hope, no chance.
J. Michael Straczynski

Achieving success in any major effort necessitates teamwork that brings together diverse people with unique skills and perspectives. Equality initiatives are no exception, where collaboration between advantaged and disadvantaged groups provide opportunities to understand both groups’ needs and identify a more fair outcome beneficial to all. To this end, we brought together members of the Queer Tech community with non-Queer Allies for Queer Tech Montreal’s fourth event. Our aim was to promote collaboration and mutual understanding on how best to support diversity in the workplace, focusing our efforts on the roles and needs of Ally colleagues.

Allies within the cis-gendered, hetero population have long played a vital role in the Queer liberation movement and will undoubtedly remain key stakeholders (check out this historic speech from the Black Panthers in 1970). This is why we wanted to better understand what LGBTQ/Ally members in the tech community knew currently about upholding inclusive workplaces and our responsibilities towards countering discrimination. Rather than present current best practices on being an Ally, we hosted a workshop geared towards promoting understanding and empathy, where attendees could exchange ideas and lived experiences in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment.

We had roughly an even number of LGBTQ and Ally professionals from startups and small businesses (ranging from the tech sector to architecture), startup incubators and community groups (e.g., Notman House and MTL New Tech), and the LGBTQ Chambre of Commerce. Once assigned to groups, we asked participants to address questions pertaining to the roles of Allies in the workplace and the resources they need to be an active contributor to upholding a diverse and inclusive work environment. Groups recorded their key insights and then exchanged their ideas with a neighbouring group so that others could learn and add issues they felt were overlooked.

In this three part series, we provide an overview of key points raised from our event

Part 1 addresses topics ranging from the inclusion of Allies, discussions about discrimination, and team building activities.

Part 2 discusses how to build a workplace that is patient, respectful and vigilant of subtle clues that an employee is excluded.

Part 3 concludes with strategies to promote mutual understanding and how best to deal with less-than-ideal behaviour at work.

Photo by Jason Behrmann.