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How to become an effective ally

Lotje Horvers, an award-winning tour manager and a committee member of the Tour Production Group, shares her tips for allyship in the workplace

27 Jul 2021

Lotje Horvers

During the last year, while working from home, I attended numerous online talks with a wide range of incredibly inspirational guest speakers, and I have followed debates during online webinars and conferences.

I have been amazed at the volume of organisations and initiatives out there working on bettering the live industry. In an effort to augment their impact, I have gathered all of their websites, podcasts and articles into a Google doc resources list.

For a more compact read, I would like to share a piece I wrote on practical tips for industry folks who want to be an ally – a person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional and positive efforts – but are not sure what they can do.

LANGUAGE: Words matter. Take a critical look at your everyday language. How inclusive is it? For example, instead of ‘sound guy’ use ‘sound engineer.’ More on inclusive language here.

Call out inappropriate behaviour. Not because minorities can’t speak for themselves, but because they shouldn’t have to

ASSESS: What is your company culture? Ask queer, non-white, and female staff how they feel about the culture. Do they feel respected? Do they feel they are seen as equals? Do they feel they get the same opportunities and compensation? Is language seen as inclusive? Do complaints get taken seriously and are there repercussions for offenders?

ACKNOWLEDGE: Recognise the challenges queer people and also women, Black, indigenous, and people of colour are facing in the industry on a daily basis and throughout their careers. Believe them when they tell you of traumatising experiences.

SPEAK UP: Call others out on inappropriate behaviour and unacceptable language. Not because minorities can’t speak for themselves, but because they shouldn’t always be required to. This also goes for when they aren’t in the room.

Call your employer out when they are not creating equal opportunity for all genders. When you receive praise or an award or get asked to speak at an event or panel, do a little research on the diversity of the organisation and the event, and make a stand if there is a lack of it. Share the spotlight and invite a minority colleague along.

When hiring crew for your tour, look outside your direct network, collect diverse resumes

KEEP UP: Take an interest in the subject and keep up with new initiatives such as Diversify the Stage and 3T Project. Volunteer as a mentor.

ACT: Implement a zero-tolerance policy for micro-aggressions, inappropriate behaviour and unacceptable language. Announce it, repeat it, enforce it. Yes, this should be standard, but somehow it’s not.

FACILITATE: Request a diverse crew from vendors and local crew suppliers. If they don’t have any non-straight, white, cis-men on their books, perhaps this will send them a clear signal that they should. Add a diversity-and-inclusion clause to your touring rider. When hiring crew for your tour, look outside your direct network, collect diverse resumes and offer equal opportunity for career progress. Offer shadowing opportunities and internships.

NORMALISE: Don’t only invite queer people to the table/on a panel/on your podcast to discuss gender balance/diversity, but instead treat them as you would any other guests and speakers.

 


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