Allyship at GXO: How These Individuals Are Empowering Women

Sponsored by GXO Logistics

Photos courtesy of GXO.

Photos courtesy of GXO.

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As you likely know, creating an inclusive company culture isn’t easy — and it requires commitment from every member of your team, as well as from the company itself. In short, inclusion is a journey, says Sean Van Uum, Vice President at GXO. “Everyone is at different points in their journey, including our company,” he continues. “The good news is that we are aware and making efforts to change.”

One person helping to make these changes at GXO (both on an individual and company-wide level) is Cathy Earnshaw-Balding, the Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) at GXO UK. While she is now in a full-time DIB role, Earnshaw-Balding’s work in this area began while she was a Senior HR Business Partner. “I got involved with DIB because it’s a passion of mine,” she tells us, “and I was asked to lead a team of volunteers, who, like me, wanted to do the right thing and make our business an even better place to work by ensuring everyone feels like they truly belong and can make a difference.” This desire is a cornerstone of Earnshaw-Balding’s work through today.

Here, Van Uum and Earnshaw-Balding reflect on their experiences in the DIB space and share some of their best practices for uplifting women from both an individual and company-wide perspective. 

Making a difference as an individual.

To start, it’s important to be an ally in the workplace — but what actually is an ally? According to Van Uum, an ally is “someone who can look past the immediate comforts of doing things the way that they have always been done. Instead, allies must always look at each situation with the intent of ‘how can I make this opportunity better and more sustainable through my participation?’” As such, he emphasizes how important it is to be open and understanding. “Listen to what people have to say and be ready to act,” states Van Uum.

“Allies can support others by allowing them to bring their full selves for work,” he continues. “Diversity is about being accepting of others' ideas and where they come from, what experiences they have had, and what their vision is for better.”

As for what allies can specifically do to help their colleagues, Van Uum suggests “promoting from within and encouraging women and minorities to further develop and grow their careers by taking advantage of the resources [available to them and supporting them through those choices].”

Helping other women grow their careers is also a goal of Earnshaw-Balding’s. In fact, she has five top tips on how you can help support the career growth of others as an individual:

  1. “Always be supportive of each other. Let people know when they’ve done a good job — and tell others. And, if they can do something even better than they are already, tell them that, too.

  2. Be a sponsor. Think about the person that once gave you a chance and give someone else one… I always say that people need a sponsor who is talking about you, believes in you, and invests in you. 

  3. Don’t wait to be asked to be a mentor. Just do it. I love taking on the role as a mentor — not just to impart my learnings on others but to learn from others, too. It’s always a two-way process.

  4. Don’t stand in anyone’s way. Look for opportunities to give someone a chance to take on more responsibility, a project, or a piece of your work that you can oversee… If I have someone in my team or I know someone that wants that experience, then I get them involved.

  5. Give people the confidence to be brave. Talk about your experiences and share your vulnerability. Share that things aren’t always easy or have a clear path. We all get knockbacks on the way.”

How companies can create a culture of support.

In addition to supporting others as individuals, companies also have an important role to play in creating an inclusive culture. One way that companies can do this is to set specific priorities. For example, at GXO, Earnshaw-Balding shares that her division has focused their DIB journey on four distinct pillars: Women in Logistics, GXO with Pride, Disability (including neurodiversity), and Cultural Awareness. “It’s not to say that we don’t tackle other subjects, these are the ones that we are shining a light on at the moment,” she clarifies.

The company also runs programming that aligns with these priorities, such as their #SheisGXO online seminar series. In these events, employees “talk about subjects that impact women such as health and wellness, confidence building, career development, and a female mentoring program,” explains Earnshaw-Balding. “We have guest speakers to help us understand issues from real people. It’s open to everyone of any gender and background to celebrate women and learn how we can get better in this arena.”

Another key way that companies can foster an inclusive culture is by supporting employee and/or business affinity groups. At GXO, “we are starting to incorporate BRGs (business resource groups) into the organization to create a culture of belonging,” shares Van Uum. 

One such BRG is called SHEisGXO, which enables women who work at GXO to connect with each other, across the company, and around the world.

Interested in joining GXO, a company that puts so much emphasis on supporting women? They’re hiring! Click the following link to browse open positions.

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