June 24, 2020
Allyship is simple. In the workplace, it means knowing your blind spots, making space for underrepresented employees, and backing them up. Nelson Mullins’ LGBTQ+ Ally and Affinity group is one of many ways that our attorneys learn more about the community and how they can support their LGBTQ coworkers. Partners Peter Haley and Carmen Thomas give some invaluable insights on allyship.
Why did you decide to get involved with the LGBTQ+ Affinity and Ally group?
Peter: I wanted to play a positive role in making our office a more open and inclusive place for everyone, and I wanted others to know that I was willing to be a personal resource for others.
Carmen: I had been looking forward to this group coming into existence and was excited that it did. I am an ally because I think it is important to show up and make your position known when it matters. I support the rights of all LGBTQ Nelson Mullins family members, and I am glad to share that sentiment and take action that can make our firm welcoming to all perspectives.
What qualities do you think make up a good ally?
Peter: An openness to others, a humility about our capacity to understand others, and a willingness to speak up.
Carmen: Willingness to listen and also to speak.
As an ally, why do you think it's important that workplaces welcome and support members of the LGBTQ community?
Peter: We want our offices to be reflective of those we serve and to benefit from a wide diversity of views and experiences. When we are more diverse, we are better at what we do. A large part of representing others, whether they be individuals or corporations, is placing yourself in the place of another, having the capacity to understand and feel what others are feeling. Members of the LGBTQ community, with an innate experience and understanding of otherness, have a great ability to meet those demands.
Carmen: For too long members of the LGBTQ community have been marginalized and excluded. I want that to change. I want them to feel comfortable and able to be themselves at Nelson Mullins because we all benefit from different perspectives. Our clients and communities are as diverse as we are. We make better teams, and we make better decisions.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a better ally to their LGBTQ colleagues in the workplace?
Peter: It is not enough to think good thoughts. Reach out, make an effort.
Carmen: Listen, learn, and look out for opportunities where you can make someone feel welcome and valued.
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