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'Real allyship is every day': 3 steps to being a better ally at work, according to Goldman Sachs' chief diversity officer

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2022 has been a rough year for marginalized communities, with events like the overturning of Roe v. Wade, anti-LGBTQ legislation and antisemitism rocking the nation. And now more than ever, allyship is crucial to the success and comfortability of diverse professionals in the workplace.

According to Megan Hogan, chief diversity officer at Goldman Sachs, being a true ally to your peers is all about authenticity and longevity.

"[Allyship involves] making sure people feel seen, heard and valued at their organizations. And quite candidly, not just in times of crisis," Hogan explains to CNBC Make It. She points to events like George Floyd's murder and the movements against racism and against anti-Asian violence as "times where, as communities, we needed to lean in. But real allyship is every day."

Hogan says that it's imperative that managers and bosses don't just promote allyship when an upsetting event occurs, but to embed it in the company culture by "making sure that we have employees meaningfully connecting with each other, building commonality, and building trust."

To further promote inclusion in the workplace, Goldman Sachs held its first inaugural Advancing Allyship conference on Nov. 1, where Hogan shared her tips for empowering allyship in finance and investment banking.

As a guide for advancing allyship in the workplace, here are Hogan's three best practices.

1. Engage

Being a true ally starts with being aware and knowledgeable about the perspectives and experiences of people from diverse groups. According to Hogan, this starts by educating yourself and starting conversations.

"The biggest challenge for people at work is creating that dialogue. We want to make sure that people have a growth mindset when thinking about equity," Hogan says. "When we think about seeking out diverse perspectives, asking people open-ended questions about their experience and how they've navigated the world differently, potentially based on their backgrounds, is the first step."

While seeking perspectives in the workplace, it's important to educate yourself on communities and issues you may not identify with on your own. This can be done by joining social justice/awareness groups, following diverse thought leaders on social media, reading books, watching informational documentaries and shows, or taking classes.

2. Act

There's a saying that goes: you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? And with many companies' diversity and inclusion efforts falling short, putting action behind your allyship can help build trust with your colleagues. 

"Step two is, once you've built that awareness make sure that you're acting at it. So getting out of thinking traps, and certainly amplifying diverse voices in the room," Hogan says.

"For example, if you're a professional hosting events, are you aware that during certain key religious holidays people have to fast? Are you thinking about time zone differences for different colleagues? Are you thinking about when you put on multi-day events, that there's nursing rooms for mothers? These are everyday acts of allyship that are quite practical and make sure that people feel included."

3. Empower

This step involves recognizing your own discomfort and still advocating for allyship in spite of that. It's also about acknowledging mistakes you may have made and dedicating yourself to change.

If you find yourself in a situation where you may have used offensive language, called a colleague by their dead name, misgendered someone, or perpetuated stereotypes or microaggressions, own up to your mistake, acknowledge the other person's feelings and open up conversations from a place of respect.

"Empowering is really about taking responsibility even when things feel hard, because that's when it matters the most," Hogan explains.

"If you say the wrong thing, or you don't know how to connect, you want to make sure that you can still be an upstander in that moment and bridge a dialog by saying, 'you know what, I didn't build the right level of awareness. I didn't bring you into that conversation. I wasn't as thoughtful as I could have been.'"

"Anyone can be an ally, and everyone deserves an ally," she says in a recent op-ed. "I encourage corporate America to embrace advancing allyship. Everybody benefits."

Check out:

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