close up of people's legs wearing rainbow socks in pride parade

My Journey as an Ally

I would like to share the journey of being an ally and how it has had a fundamental impact on my professional and personal life.

I live in Brazil, a country that ranks highest in the world for violence against LGBTQ+ people, in a region, Latin America, that has deep roots in discrimination and prejudice. Being an ally of the LGBTQ+ cause is much more than necessary in this scenario; it is a matter of citizenship and human rights. It is inconceivable, in my opinion, for someone not to be an ally, or not to take a strong position in this regard.

For me, who was born with the privilege of being white and heterosexual, it is vitally important to be an ally and bring discussion, education, knowledge, and openness to all possible places where I can help This means more than simply identifying myself as an ally; it’s by example, the attitudes and real empathy of my everyday actions, that I can make a difference.

At work, my team members are aware of my attitudes and behavior. Receptively, but firmly, I always try to clarify and show why some behaviors that some people consider innocent or just “jokes” are pejorative, aggressive, and inadmissible in an inclusive and diverse environment. The same goes for my personal life. I am deeply proud to say that over time, and with many conversations and clarifications, I saw my parents’ behavior change. They became natural allies, correcting the behavior of people in their circle of friends, as well as being extremely welcoming and supportive of people who came to them for advice about being an ally. So, everyone can be an ally. You just must have the mindset for this direction, and your contribution, even if you think it could be small, can change lives.

There is no recipe or prerequisite to be an ally. All that is needed is empathy, genuine concern for other human beings, and an openness to never stop learning, knowing that doubts appear every day. Every time I have a conversation with an LGBTQ+ person or assist one of GP Strategies’ Employee Resource Group (ERG) sessions, I realize how little I know—but even this little can make a big difference in the environment in which I live. If you have any doubts, ask! If you feel someone is different from you and it makes you feel uncomfortable, seek knowledge and understanding and open your mind. The more diverse our world, the richer it becomes!

About the Authors

Vanda Cunha

Vanda Cunha, Senior Director at GP Strategies Corporation with more than 30 years of experience developing new markets, delivering company service lines and P&L management. Graduated in Economics, specialized in Finance and management, applies a strategic consultative approach delivering value added solutions to customers and organization’s goals and objectives. Vanda has experience in process improvement management, with the ability to motivate and lead teams, ensuring quality processes and effective communication. A strong believer in the power of people to achieve excellence.