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Employee Experience

How to be an Effective First-Time Advocate at Work

One Minute Takeaway

  • In the workplace, being an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) can help build strong support networks and create a sense of belonging and well-being for all employees.
  • Companies in the top quarter of gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to be more profitable than the bottom quarter. And companies in the top quarter of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed the bottom quarter by 36% in terms of profitability.
  • Becoming an advocate can be an exciting part of your job. As an advocate, you can make a difference by initiating and building positive change.

Whether you realize it or not, it’s likely that you’re already an advocate for someone or something. You might be a Dallas Cowboys or Tampa Bay Bucs fan, your favorite TV show is “Ted Lasso,” and you probably have a favorite local restaurant (not Applebee’s) that you have strong opinions about. Being an advocate happens when you spend time convincing others they should give those things some attention, too.

Advocacy is often equated to public relations. Although the central ideas of promotion are similar, that’s not really an entirely accurate comparison. PR is telling; advocacy is doing. When people advocate for someone or something, they’re sharing relevant information with others that will help educate and inform and ultimately garner agreement or buy-in.

Create a More Positive Company

In the workplace, being an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) can help build strong support networks and create a sense of belonging and well-being for all employees. And it’s been proven time and time again that having a diverse workforce can help improve profits.

Companies in the top quarter of gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to be more profitable than the bottom quarter. And companies in the top quarter of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed the bottom quarter by 36% in terms of profitability. (McKinsey) Companies that take bold action to help ensure an inclusive workplace will win every time.

How Can I Be a Good Advocate?

Knowing you want to be an advocate in your workplace is the first step! Advocating on behalf of others takes time and effort, so being fully committed to the process is important. Here are a few tips to successfully start on the path to advocacy.

Listen & Learn – Always

An effective advocate listens to their audience and learns from conversations. One thing not to do is ask the employee groups that you’re advocating for to do the heavy lifting of educating you on issues that are important to them. Do. Your. Research.

Of course, you’re not going to learn everything there is to know about racism, gender bias or sexual orientation discrimination, because those topics are diverse and highly personal to everyone who experiences them. But it’s important to put in the effort to educate yourself on recent happenings or news around specific, relevant issues that are important to the groups you’re advocating for.

You can also look to podcasts, TED Talks or other story-telling initiatives for guidance. A cautionary note: Make sure the sources you use come directly from the communities being discussed and not people talking about groups where they don’t belong.

Beware of Unconscious Bias

No one is immune from some type of bias. The challenge is that most of us aren’t even aware we have these prejudices deeply embedded in our brains. Confirmation bias is an excellent example of unconscious bias: A recruiter forms an immediate opinion about a candidate based on the perceived ethnicity of their name or the education level outlined on their resume.

This type of unconscious bias can easily slither its way into the interview process. The recruiter’s initial perceptions will often steer questions in a direction that will serve to confirm their first opinion and ruin a perfectly fine candidate’s chances of moving forward.  

Often unconscious biases are revealed in microaggressions. Examples of microaggressions include:

  • Asking a person of color, “Where are you from?”
  • Saying, “All lives matter” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Telling a woman, “You should smile more!”
  • Asking a gay couple, “So, who’s the man in the relationship?”

As an advocate, you can help build a culture of learning by working with your leadership team to institute unconscious bias training in your diversity program. You can also help ensure that typically marginalized people are not only given a seat at the table but also given a voice and the opportunity to be their authentic selves.

Build Employee Resource Groups

Community groups are spaces for your diverse workforce to discuss concerns specific to their shared experiences, connect their thoughts or just hang out and talk. Sometimes, your employees may not have a place where they feel safe voicing concerns as speaking with a line manager may result in conflict if they aren’t empathetic or prepared to deal with it. These support groups should also include members of majority groups to help bridge the understanding and act as a way to communicate the nuances.

Use Your Data

Every company, large or small, has some sort of data they can pull together to get a detailed view of the people who comprise their workforce. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet showing the gender and ethnicity makeup of the company or a deep dive into analytics to reveal compensation trends that will help you monitor pay equity (hint: we have this), you’ve got insights.  

Becoming an advocate can be an exciting part of your job. As an advocate, you can make a difference by initiating and building positive change.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor Analytics helps you transform your existing HR data into meaningful data that answer your most critical business challenges and drive meaningful change across your workforce. Our technology empowers HR leaders with high-impact, easy-to-consume, real-time data insights so you can you answer the right questions about your workforce. With increased scrutiny around pay equity our analytics can help you ensure your company’s pay practices are consistent and fair.

For more free resources and tools that promote DE&I best practices in the workplace, visit Perspectives+. It’s Paycor’s online knowledge library designed to help our partner network drive change, empower colleagues, and foster new leaders.