D&I at The Lab : Allyship

type - features
category - gender
category - society
category - workplace
sector - diversity & inclusion
category - d&i at the lab
In the next edition of our Diversity & Inclusion at The Lab series, we examine the systemic issues that have created and are still re-creating oppression, and learning and relearning about our own personal privileges to be more aware and inspired to act as better allies.

In professional settings, being an effective ally can be more meaningful than performative activism, Instagram swipe-throughs and hashtag helping. Being able to recognise the situations in which each of us can use our privilege to benefit those around us is key to an equitable workplace.

We hope that by reading the entries shared below you will broaden your understanding of corporate privilege and inspire your own personal journey to becoming an effective ally in the workplace.

This is the fifth in the D&I at The Lab series. Stay tuned for upcoming articles. You can also read more on our post-urgency approach to diversity and inclusion, our approaches to Trans Inclusion and how we’re transforming the way we recruit.

Published by:

20 July 2021

Author: Chris Sanderson and Gursharan Panesar

Image: Period-proof activewear by Thinx


YSM8 by Reform The Funk

Gursharan, graduate trainee:
Intersectional allyship

As someone who comes from an intersectional background, I have always had a personal understanding of what workplace D&I offers. When you’re not white or male, your intersectionality is apparent to anyone you meet. That’s why it was so surprising to see how many points of privilege I actually benefit from that are completely unnoticeable. After completing the Personal Privilege Fingerprint for The Other Box Allyship training, something that everyone here at The Lab has participated in, it really opened my eyes to the experiences where I have privilege over someone else.

So, for anyone who like me thought they knew all there is to know about being a good ally, it is important to recognise that we all have some homework to do. For anyone who wants to do their own personal learning, I highly recommend NPR’s Code Switch, a podcast that offers some great advice on how to have larger social discussions with friends, family and co-workers.

Overall, what’s important for intersectional individuals to recognise is that any privilege you have still provides you with a level of access that others are unable to attain. This makes being an active ally just as important.

‘For anyone who like me thought they knew all there is to know about being a good ally, it is important to recognise that we all have some homework to do.’
Gursharan Panesar, graduate trainee, The Future Laboratory
Black Lives Matter protest taking place in Animal Crossing

Victoria, futures director:
Putting allyship into action

With The Future Laboratory’s Diversity & Inclusion training in full swing, many of us have been asking how we can be better allies to our colleagues.

With that in mind I wanted to share a link to the Allyship & Action platform, a cyber-summit of insights on how to effectively advocate for equality in the workplace. The channel includes some brilliant videos that build on the training we’ve already started with some practical tips including how to weaponise your privilege for goodhow boutique agencies can be more active in allyship, and my personal favourite – the white lady bootcamp.

As the founders say: ‘Language is not enough for the radical shift necessary for a truly equitable industry. Leading by example requires action: sacrificing ego, trusting the diverse voices around us and not wavering from our position for financial gain.’ 

Tilly, presentations editor:
The new way we work

In the new year, the Fast Company podcast series took on a new name to reflect the changing landscape of our working lives. The New Way We Work examines the default culture in the workplace and echoes the same white supremacist cis-hetero ableist patriarchy. So far, there have been many insightful episodes, including Why we need to stop overlooking neurodiversity at work and This is what white privilege looks like at your workplace. 

It has highlighted how important using your privilege is in replacing the default culture, in which the emotional labour of change falls disproportionately on individuals or groups facing discrimination or bias. Sharing this labour, this link and toolkit shared by Victoria from The New York Times on Calling-out vs Calling-in includes ways in which we can have more effective (unlearn, relearn) conversations when seeing or hearing something that feels wrong but aren’t quite sure how to address it.

‘Language is not enough for the radical shift necessary for a truly equitable industry. Leading by example requires action: sacrificing ego, trusting the diverse voices around us and not wavering from our position for financial gain.’
#TheWholeBloodyTruth, Callaly

Momo, senior strategic researcher:
The importance of intersectionality in trans+ allyship

When it comes to allyship and gender, trans people are often excluded from the conversation. Currently, a powerful lobby of predominantly white cis women who are ‘radical feminists’ are pushing for the eradication of trans rights. A friend of mine is a trans Afro-Latinx man who was the first trans man selected to participate in Mr Gay England. The transphobic outrage caused hate groups like the LGB Alliance to violently harass him online. The LGB Alliance is a group that believes that trans people shouldn’t be part of the ‘alphabet umbrella’, and that gender and biological sex are the same. On top of all of this is the additional racism faced by trans people of the global majority. All of these intersections faced by non-white trans people bring further complexity to the conversation.

Transmisogynoir is the intersection of transphobia, misogyny and racism faced by Black trans women. Its prevalence and rising incidence means that Black trans women remain one of the most marginalised communities who face risk from all sides, including other women. I’ve chosen this article by activist Ashlee Marie Preston, who takes us through her direct experiences of transmisogynoir, making it really integral reading for understanding intersectional experiences. 

As we answer the question, ‘how can we be better allies for all genders?’ it’s important to include trans and non-binary genders as a part of this conversation, but also the other intersections that are just as important to acknowledge, understand and address. 

Fiona, people director:
10,000 Black Interns

The Future Laboratory is delighted to be included on the list of companies participating in the 10,000 Black Interns programme in summer 2022. 

This initiative was designed to create a more inclusive economy that works for all. As part of The Future Laboratory’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, we believe affirmative action is crucial in combatting the marginalisation of Black people in the workplace and in wider society. Systemic and institutional racism all too often leads to inequity in hiring opportunities, and as a result, there is a huge under-representation of Black people in our industry, especially at leadership levels.

10,000 Black Interns aims to transform the scope of possibility for young Black people by offering paid work experience across more than 20 job sectors, and at The Future Laboratory we see this as one of many steps on the journey towards justice and liberation.

You can read more about the 10,000 Black Interns programme here.

‘Systemic and institutional racism all too often leads to inequity in hiring opportunities, and as a result, there is a huge under-representation of Black people in our industry, especially at leadership levels.’
Fiona Anderson, people director, The Future Laboratory
Youth in Power by Ryan McGinley

Thomas, senior account manager:
I'm safe and respected

Pronouns have become a super-hot topic, closely following Covid-19, lockdowns and outdoor dining. But why? For many, thinking about your gender is something you might never have considered. I was born ‘x’; therefore, I am ‘x’. Ok, but what about those of us who fall between the gender gaps? Like sexuality, for many, gender identity is a sliding scale.

Now, the purpose of my opinion isn’t to tackle a massive topic like gender. Instead, I want to discuss why it’s important to include pronouns in email signatures. We’re telling all co-workers that at The Future Laboratory you are safe to be you and you will be respected. Pretty cool, right? It’s that simple. For many it’s an insignificant action, but for others it can mean so much. In many cases, this show of solidarity illustrates your willingness to accept others. An article I recently found on Refinery29, The Reality Of Changing Your Pronouns At Work, explains that getting pronouns into signatures is just the first step towards feeling safe and respected in the workplace. The article features four non-binary people, who share their experiences of changing their pronouns in the workplace and their advice for others hoping to make similar changes. A must read!

Homecoming and Browns 2020

Chris, co-founder:
Finding allyship in deviancy

For me, as co-founder of The Future Laboratory, our company Diversity & Inclusion training has been a particularly eye-opening experience as I have found myself appreciating mine and Martin’s own journey over two decades in business as openly gay men who have consistently striven to create an environment and culture which is accepting and non-judgemental, but I have been challenged also by the huge advantages, good-fortune and privilege I have enjoyed both before and since setting up the business.

Equity and acceptance remain our long-term goals and the rebalancing we are undergoing is an uplifting, albeit at times confronting process. Central to the journey for me has to be embracing a culture of deviancy – in its truest sense. This is a term critical to what we do here at The Lab – deviancy is all about being different, contrary to, or ahead of the mainstream in terms of your thinking, choices or decision-making processes. It’s about identifying and driving new trends and innovations, as well as appreciating why deviant or divergent thinking is a skill to be cultivated by forecasters. The D&I work we’re doing is not about someone else, someone different to you; recognise and celebrate the deviant in you that makes you such a special and unique part of The Future Laboratory – we are a family of deviants drawn together not just by job or financial requirement but a real interest in difference in the everyday and the extraordinary.

I know you’ve all already devoured Martin’s Masterclass series from start to finish, but remind yourself of Level One module 4, which looks at The Deviant’s Toolkit – and consider how we can use our individual differences to better connect not just to each other but importantly to those at ‘the edge’ – the outliers who represent our new tomorrows. As Martin says, ‘We need to embrace those voices that are other or different in our forecasting’. Because they are not just our allies, they are our future.


Want to read more?

This article is part of our Diversity & Inclusion work at The Future Laboratory. Explore our work on D&I on our blog and discover what steps we are taking to make a better tomorrow happen.

Alternatively, join LS:N Global where members get full access to our Intersectionality series.

Discover our memberships

Already a member? Click here to login