LGBTQ+ allyship at Sheffield Hallam University  

“The most important thing to remember is that allyship is a verb, not a noun. You can’t simply ‘be’ an ally. You need to practice it. You need to use your identity and privilege to make change happen,”Dr. Evelyn Carter. 

Working at Sheffield Hallam means you are working with the University’s values which include inclusion, with equity, equality, diversity and inclusion acting as key enablers to the University Strategy. Read more about Hallam’s commitment to Equality. 

An ally is someone who believes everyone should be treated equally and feel safe to be themselves at work. They understand that when people can comfortably be themselves, they feel confident and can perform to their full potential.  

How to practise allyship at work 

Take time to learn about and understand others’ experiences, perspectives and identities 

If they are happy to, talk to LGBTQ+ colleagues, students, family and friends about their experiences, as well as staying informed about current LGBTQ+ issues.  

There are number of ways you can do this. You can read articles and information, watch media created by LGBTQ+ people, or attend LGBTQ+ events. You can find out about local events and suggested reading through our Viva Engage Group. 

The more active you are as an ally, the more people you’ll meet and the more you’ll learn about the LGBTQ+ spectrum, it’s constantly changing. 

You can also visit external websites such as or 

Amplify the conversation 

Prioritise listening, then use your networks and platforms to spread the word. Raise up voices of LGBTQ+ people and use your own platforms to share their stories in your social circles. 

Embrace discomfort 

Lean in: Accept your own culpability and understand how you could do better. We all have to start somewhere and there is no perfect ally. Recognising where you have missed opportunities is the first step to building on your experience as an ally. 

Embrace things even if you don’t fully understand them 

Every person is different and that means we all come across things that we might not understand or that are new or different to us. It’s okay to not fully understand a person’s identity as long as you don’t judge them – curiosity will get you further than judgement. 

Speak up and act 

Use your own privilege to step up for others.  

In the workplace, this kind of behaviour tends to be subtle. It can be someone using explicit derogatory language or deliberately misgendering someone, but it could also be someone being treated differently, excluded or targeted, or comments being made behind someone’s back.  

Importantly, before challenging the inappropriate behaviour, you should check to see if the person affected is okay and ask if they feel that it was inappropriate, as people can have different opinions on what they find offensive.  

If you are unsure about how to challenge the behaviour or you feel unconfident, talk to your manager or another colleague to see if they can support you in challenging inappropriate behaviour. If you feel unable to do this personally then escalate this to the LGBTQ+ Network. 

Looking at the figures… 

Allyship really matters. UK data shows that: 

  • More than a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination. 
  • Almost two in five bi people (38%) aren’t out to anyone at work about their sexual orientation, compared to seven per cent of gay men and four per cent of lesbians. 
  • One in four trans people (26%) aren’t open with anyone at work about being trans. This number increases to about two in five non-binary people (37%) who aren’t out at work. 
  • Almost one in five LGBT staff (18%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because they’re LGBT. 

And for our students:  

  • Two in five LGBT students (42%) have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. 
  • More than a third of trans students (36%) and seven per cent of lesbian, gay and bi students who aren’t trans faced negative comments or conduct from university staff because they’re LGBT. 
  • Almost half of LGBT disabled students (47%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from other students. 
  • More than a quarter of LGBT students (28%) say they were excluded by other students for being LGBT. 
  • Students intend to be more open about their sexual orientation and gender identity in higher education, with overall levels of openness increasing from 64% at school to an expected 82% at university or college. When researching university choices, around a third (31%) of LGBT+ students paid specific attention to LGBT+ services. These included mental health support services (47% extremely interested) and university or college reputation in equality and diversity (46% extremely interested). 30% were extremely interested in LGBT+ societies and 21% were extremely interested in support networks for LGBT+ students. 


Source: LGBT in Britain – Work (2018) and Next Steps: What is the experience of LGBT+ students in education? (2021) 


Allyship as part of the bigger Sheffield Hallam University strategy 

Sheffield Hallam University prioritises equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion through its central strategy which focuses on ‘transforming lives’. 

Allies should never underestimate the significant difference they can make to LGBTQ+ people’s lives through positive support. This involves recognising that individuals deserve respect and equality. Allowing people to be themselves openly and honestly with their colleagues, without fear of their reactions. 

One of the things many LGBTQ+ people find most difficult, especially early in their lives is ‘coming out’. It takes courage and resilience to be so open especially as others’ can be less than accepting and even harshly negative.  

The growing number of allies at Hallam and beyond have transformed LGBTQ+ people’s experience. You should never underestimate what impact it has being an active ally and an advocate for them against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. 

Together we can continue to transform LGBTQ+ people’s lives, where there are no assumptions about sexuality or gender identity and individuals are valued as a person and for the contribution they make, to society and the University. 

If you have any questions, please email the network chairs at