On the last Friday of Black History Month, Yara DeSousa, our Diversity Engagement Lead, held an event regarding allyship. The group discussed the meaning of allyship, why it’s important, and how we can make allyship a part of our daily lives and work at L.E.K.

Sofia Siegel, a consultant in our Los Angeles office, attended this important event and answered a few questions about her experience. 

What was covered in the session? Did it meet your expectations?
The discussion began with Yara explaining her background and her role with L.E.K. This was followed by exercises. They started simple, for example asking about the origins of our names and what they mean to us. The questions increased in intensity slowly, asking about first messages we received as children about racial and religious biases. Some were heavy questions, but Yara framed them so that they were in the context of discussing our backgrounds. Instead of being on the defensive when talking about the biases we may have inherited, we were able to start slow and work up to conversations that we might never have had at work. The exercises were a great icebreaker to start the discussions of what it means to be an ally and challenge these early messages we were given. 

What were some takeaways from the session that you’d like to incorporate into your day-to-day life?
The biggest takeaway was the reminder that this is an ongoing, lifelong process. I will definitely continue to attend events and talks like this and encourage my teams to make the time to prioritize this as well. Day to day, I was reminded to be a good listener, be aware of my intersecting positions of power, and to make this a part of my life-long learning.

What does “Intent<Impact” mean to you?
The phrase means that what we mean by our words and actions is less important than the impact they have. They way others feel from these words and actions is incredibly important. Yara expanded on it during her presentation and reminded us to assume good intent from our coworkers as a starting point. This sets us up to expect good intentions, but also takes “I didn’t mean anything by XXX” out of the equation. It is important to focus on the impact of your words and actions, and not to discount someone else’s lived experience just because your “intentions were good.”

What steps do you see L.E.K making to promote allyship more broadly within the company?
We have broadened our recruiting efforts to more intentionally recruit diverse candidates. Our goal is to increase representation at all levels, so we can demonstrate to all L.E.K.ers a place and path for someone who looks like them. 
L.E.K. has also done a great job supporting our affinity groups with events like Lunar New Year and meaningful programming during Black History Month. These are just a few examples.

Why was attending this event important to you?
It is very important for me to support ED&I and allyship at L.E.K. I was VP of Diversity + Inclusion in my graduate program at USC Marshall, and it’s something I’m grateful to see happening in the workplace. I had never seen that before! 
Showing up and letting other folks know it’s okay prioritize attending this for an hour, even on a busy day, is important. As Yara said “Allyship is a verb” and it takes ongoing effort and attention.