Panel Discussion on Allyship in the Workplace

On Wednesday 30th of May, Fitbit hosted a panel discussion on Allyship in the workplace. Allyship is a crucial ingredient when building an inclusive culture in any company.

The panel consisted of Dr. Tom Clonan, Author, Whistle-blower & Security Analyst, Clodagh Logue, VP of HR International at Fitbit, Ruth McEntee, Country Manager of Google and Cpl Senior Director, Rob Daly.

Speakers discussed what is meant by ‘Allyship’, how to break barriers associated with unconscious bias, why male Allyship is important in the workplace, and how to ensure all voices are heard and leveraged within a company.

Allyship begins when a person of privilege seeks to support a marginalised group or an individual. An ally empowers and stands by a marginalised individual, takes responsibility, and accepts differences.

Dr. Tom Clonan, as an army officer and captain, conducted a PhD study into the experiences of female soldiers, sailors and aircrew in the Irish Defence Forces. He found evidence of explicitly discriminatory and illegal policies and shockingly high levels of sexual violence against women. A number of female soldiers reported experiences of sexual harassment, sexual assault and allegations of rape. Standing up for the oppressed isn’t always easy as Dr. Clonan discovered. After publishing his research, he was isolated and threatened by the majority of his former colleagues and friends.

Despite this, his findings prompted independent government enquiry which fully vindicated Dr. Conlan’s findings, conclusions and recommendations. The Defence Forces are now in a better position to work for both men and women, and are considered to be an example of best practice for diversity, equality, and dignity by the international military.

Panel discussion on allyship

Striving for 50%-50% gender balance

In comparison to their male counterparts, women often don’t consider themselves as eligible for promotions, waiting until they feel that they are more skilled. They predict they’ll do worse on tests,  are more risk-adverse and generally underestimate their abilities.

Ruth McEntee, Google’s Country Manager, spoke about the support groups and initiatives in Google that prevent women from dropping out after having children and encouraging them to push for promotion.

A lot of people have an unconscious association between men and career, and women and family, and are unaware of the impact that this might have for women in the workplace.

Fitbit’s Clodagh Logue spoke about uncovering this unconscious bias, how we don’t realise that men are more privileged and what can be done to ensure gender equality in the workplace.

Cpl’s Senior Director, Rob Daly spoke about achieving better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses. Initiatives such as The 30% Club, push for gender balance on boards and executive leadership, which not only encourage better leadership and governance, but ultimately result in increased corporate performance.

Rob highlighted that as there is a prevalence of men in leadership positions, it’s men who have to become gender-balance champions for change.  Senior male leaders need to develop critical inclusive leadership strategies, sharpen awareness of inequalities, unconscious biases (often being demonstrated through the use of language), and privilege, and hone skills to make a lasting impact.

We would like to thank Clodagh Logue, ‎Vice President, International HR, and Sharon Corbett, Human Resources Director EMEA, from Fitbit for the invitation. Cpl were delighted to attend and enjoyed taking part in the discussion.

diverse workforce