As part of our ongoing commitment at Iress to diversity, equity & inclusion, we offer our people engaging initiatives through the year to build understanding and awareness.

June marks Pride month, a month dedicated to celebrating and commemorating LGBTQIA+ Pride. Disappointingly, we still live in a world where people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities face a range of discrimination that can negatively impact their health and wellbeing. It’s an issue that organisations can no longer turn a blind eye to. According to Deloitte Global’s 2023 report on Inclusion in the Workplace, one in three respondents are actively looking to change employers to find an organisation that is more LGBTQIA+ inclusive.

During Pride month at Iress we had a number of activities running throughout the month to advocate for the rainbow community. We held two panel sessions for Iress people on how to be a great ally. In these sessions we spoke with Stu Pearce (Royal New Zealand Air Force's first openly gay maintenance flight commander on an operational squadron), Elisabeth Lane (Senior Relationship Manager with Pride in Diversity and a transgender woman), and Manjusha Merrymaker (who helps leaders navigate the complexities of diversity, equity and inclusion), alongside Dr Sen Raj (Associate Professor in Human Rights Law), Steph Richards (a 72-year-old trans woman and human rights activist), and Melissa Sabella (CEO of The Honeycomb Works).

What does it mean to be an ally?

All too often the people who suffer discrimination are the ones who are expected to fix it. To be an ally is to share this burden and take it off the shoulders of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Having empathy and caring about the issue is important, but true allyship means putting yourself out there and taking action. Learning to be an ally is an important task, but it can also be challenging and confronting. You must be willing to listen and grow in understanding and knowledge.

Our knowledgeable panellists shared their top tips on how best to embrace allyship in the workplace:

  • Don’t be passive. Inclusive leadership or allyship means being visible and showing that you care. Allies can have tremendous amounts of power when they speak up or challenge someone who might say or do something inappropriate. It makes it more likely that the person who acted in that way might not do so in the future. It's especially important to intervene and stand up for people if things are being said behind their backs and they aren’t there to stand up for themselves.
  • Be courageous. If you’re confused about pronouns or how to talk to someone who is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, the best thing to do is be open and ask when you’re not sure.
  • Learn about the concept of intersectionality. There is a kaleidoscope of intersectional diversity in the LGBTQIA+ community. Intersectionality means acknowledging that everyone has various parts that make up their identity. When someone has multiple parts of their identity that are marginalised, they face even greater inequality or disadvantage, and this can create obstacles within the workplace and broader society.
  • Diversify your LinkedIn network. LinkedIn is algorithm based, so if you only connect with and search for other people who look and think exactly like you, then LinkedIn will keep connecting you with similar people and serving content from similar people, making it very hard for you to build awareness and understanding of more diverse people. This has huge societal implications. Get to know people who are different from you, and be inquisitive and curious when you meet these people.
  • Be mindful and respectful. When planning team meetings or team building exercises - sometimes we forget that when we ask people to share things about themselves it requires a lot of trust. Some people might feel extremely uncomfortable sharing personal things. We need to be mindful about the sharing activities that we get people to take part in and respect when people decide not to take part.
  • Leadership and allyship are one and the same. At every level of an organisation there needs to be people championing allyship. Caring for the cause and getting rainbow cupcakes are great, but they don’t equal inclusion.

For allyship to be truly impactful it needs to take place at both the systemic level and the individual level. Allyship can create greater inclusion and in turn a more positive workplace culture.

Our priorities for DEI this year at Iress:

  • We are participating in the 40:40 Vision for representation of 40% Women, 40% Men, 20% any gender at Board, Leadership Team and Senior Leadership levels by 2030.
  • Attracting diverse talent, with objectives to target 45% of female representation of candidates to be interviewed for all roles, and 50% female representation of hires in New Talent Programs. We will also deliver focused DEI Training on inclusive recruitment to our Talent Acquisition team, and maintain our endorsed Employer Status with Work180 in both the UK and Australia.
  • Ensuring there is no bias in how we remunerate by continuing to undertake an annual Gender Pay Gap analysis and submitting Gender Pay Gap reports
  • Delivering DEI Foundation training to all people to raise the level of understanding and awareness of DEI, what inclusion really means and how it can benefit Iress, teams, leaders and individuals.

Find out more about our approach to ESG here.