GSK believes that allies hold the power to drive change in their organisation, by enabling colleagues from marginalised groups the opportunities to thrive and challenging hurtful behaviour by standing up for them.
At the end of 2021 they devised a strategic framework to create a step-change in engaging LGBTQ+ allies across their global footprint.
After taking the time to understand some of the barriers and challenges to engaging allies, they found that there were many varying definitions of allyship being used across the organisation and people were less confident in knowing how to be an ‘active ally’. Interestingly, allyship was not widely understood or meant different things in markets outside the UK and USA. For example, several LGBTQ+ colleagues in Asia reported that for allyship to work, trust was more important than understanding.
GSK aimed to increase their ally population, especially in countries with more challenging contexts for LGBTQ+ rights, and implemented a number of measures to build and educate their ally base. Global mandatory training that featured allyship was introduced. This included case studies on allyship, challenging employees to identify actions that they could take, as well as giving them the opportunity to check their understanding of what others around them need and show empathy through words and actions. In a 3-week period, 46 posts from across the globe were shared internally which included coming out stories, the importance of marriage equality, and parents supporting their children coming out.
They also developed a ‘Quick Start Guide on Becoming an Ally’ with three steps: ‘Get Curious’, ‘Commit’ and ‘Get Courageous’. This is now complemented with ‘Let’s Talk About Allyship’ dialogue sessions to bring the guide to life and support people in countries where the concept of LGBTQ+ allyship is still new.
Finally, GSK built an internal allies forum where colleagues can discuss their ideas, which now has over 300 members. As well as driving up the number of allies globally, this work has provided a vital opportunity for allies across the globe to explore their role in creating LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces.
Remarkably, in 2021, 99.4% of GSK 90,000 employees and 92.9% of its contract workers completed inclusion training featuring allyship; the organisation continues to build on this success.