‘Being a good ally requires empathy’

Seb Randle, Head of Allyship at Bloom North, reminds us to bring our human side to work as we enter National Inclusion Week

Seb Randle

Head of Allyship Bloom North


My valuable connections with female friends and colleagues have always been of utmost importance to me. I admire the compassion of the females that I spend time with. Their openness and willingness to share challenges with both me and others around them. Their resilience and tenacity when things get tough. These women have actually become the nucleus of my life in many ways, and a guiding light for how to behave.

Seeing these impressive women is where my allyship journey began.

Back in my youth, I was somewhat oblivious to the reality of women’s experiences when it comes to their careers. Take the issue of pay for example. Whilst women make up over 50% of University graduates, The Institute of Fiscal Studies shows us that female pay slips below men’s from age 25, and it then worsens further as we take into account the impact of motherhood and retirement. By the age of 65, it’s reported that a woman has earned £390k less than an equivalent man.

Lead 50/50, an organisation built to support businesses in achieving gender parity highlights these stats along with other important observations. Childcare, maternity and caring duties are keeping women out of work disproportionately. Unconscious bias is affecting the progression of women. Direct discrimination and sexism are still present, and are often reflective of unequal pay existing within those organisations.

I think we’ve all come into contact with some, if not all of these imbalances.

Whilst I may not be able to directly impact the issues themselves, what I can do is speak up, engage more men in the conversation and try to set a good example. I’m no expert, and I don't profess to be. But as a Head of Allyship for Bloom North, a female-only committee (bar me!), we help to elevate the female voices in our communications industry and work towards making gender parity a reality.

I take my role in that very seriously, and education is a big first step.

I’ve had to learn some important lessons. I’ve reflected on past behaviours of my own and frankly, it’s not been easy. I began to realise that I’d not always been the best of allies. I had, on occasion, raised my voice. I had turned a blind eye. I had made a sexist remark. I’d let down the women who existed in my life by being thoughtless, and I’d been part of the problem.

Ultimately as men, we need to really start valuing the importance of diversity and start putting ourselves in new and unfamiliar situations in order to get a better understanding of those around us.

Seb Randle, Head of Allyship at Bloom North

Was I even the right person to be doing this work?

But this is the journey. Reflecting on past behaviours and unlearning. Showing a commitment to doing things differently. I dissected my privilege via an eye opening course from The Other Box. Not only did I begin to understand the male/female power imbalance more clearly, but I started to see the ways in which I could use my privilege for good, to really make a difference.

Some men might be reading this and feeling a sense of discomfort. The natural reaction may be to turn a blind eye and keep focused on the immediate priorities. Keep things simple. ‘I don’t want to be bothered with that, I’ve got enough to think about.’

But what men don’t always realise is that engaging with these important issues is actually heightening their relevance for the future. We are in ever-evolving times and that means that what got us here, won’t necessarily get us there. We must adapt and do things differently!

As the coaching platform Kultralab identifies in their inclusivity research, we have to start showing more curiosity by listening, and not always thinking we need to have the answer. We need to admit when we’re wrong and do what we say we’re going to do. Ultimately as men, we need to really start valuing the importance of diversity and start putting ourselves in new and unfamiliar situations in order to get a better understanding of those around us.

As the illustrious Lee Chambers, MD of Essentialise UK and Male Allies UK, rightly says, “allyship is a verb”. He announced this in a workshop we were running together, to help other men engage in the topic. It really connected with me and helped me see that whilst the conversation is useful, it’s the action and follow-up that really delivers.

So my challenge to all the men out there would be: What can you do this week to show genuine care and consideration for the people around you? How might you put yourself in environments to learn a fresh perspective? How can you use your status and experience to nurture the development of another? Invest some time in thinking about how you will set a good example for the men around you.

As I write this, I’m feeling a wave of hope rising within me. There is a change in the dialogue. We’re moving from awareness into action and dismantling the stereotypes. Finally, it feels as though across the industry the penny is dropping that men and women should be on an equal footing.

I’m not only excited about what this means for our communications industry, but also what it means for a fairer and more equitable society in general.

Guest Author

Seb Randle

Head of Allyship Bloom North


Seb Randle is a People Focused Consultant & Coach, Founder of The Helpful Space, Ex Social Chain Development Coach and Head of Allyship at Bloom North.