Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Scott Sallée and Beth Freedman from Dentsu share their Queer Allyship success stories; showing us the importance of showing up, and how simply 'feeling seen' and supported can change so much for a person's career trajectory.
Scott's Allyship story...
Beth always supports with the personal and the professional. The way our work/life overlaps these days makes this level of care so important. Beth supported me through a chapter where I was navigating both corporate politics and an inner exploration of identity, expression, and self. She cares intensely and her support is compassionately incisive – which matched my needs and the situation perfectly. She has a powerful way of reminding me of my power, resilience, agency, and strength, emboldening me to get moving and realigning me on my path.
Beth shows up. I can’t really put it any more directly than that. Beth shows up. Whether it’s with her physical presence, her emotional intelligence, or the focus of her attention when she’s with you, she’s fully there. Compassionate focus is rare in a world of fractioned attention spans and it’s something I treasure about her.
Allyship is a verb. It’s active. Beth embodies allyship by proactively checking in and she’s one of those special people that asks twice – thrice even – to learn how you’re really doing. It’s a simple practice I would encourage everyone to adopt: ask, and if you feel hesitation, ask again. Make the space for people to share how they really are. What a gift we can offer to a fellow human to be able to drop the masks, the covering, the weight of having to be OK all the time!
Beth’s genuine, honest, and direct energy creates psychological safety, essential for a high performing culture. She also acts as a strong ally for others in our organisation, by being the senior sponsor of our LGBTQ+ network, Beth continues to create exponential change through advocacy: internally with our leadership and externally in our wider industry.
When one part of your life is proving challenging, it pulls energy and focus from other areas – we only have so much to give at any one time. The support I received reignited my flame and I honour Beth by paying it forward to others. One of my favourite quotes by Ram Dass is “We’re all just walking each other home.” – when I’m with Beth, I truly feel what it means to be witnessed, valued, and respected; I feel cheered on to use my gifts for good. I am grateful to walk this path with her.
Beth's Allyship story...
The desire to be an ally may be organic but the reality of being a good ally is an active commitment. It’s more than simply being a good friend or a good boss. Being a good ally requires commitment to on-going education. It requires acceptance that you will make mistakes and the humility to quickly own up to them. It means a commitment to never making that same mistake twice.
I would like to believe that no one claims to be an ally with a lack of good intent. But if you don’t do the work, if you don’t commit yourself to learning, if you simply think being an ally is about being a nice person, then you’re not really an ally. Positive intent is a starting point, but active allyship is an on-going journey.
As a leader, it’s my responsibility to make space for others to shine. People did this for me throughout my career, and it’s my turn now. As a human, the same applies. I am so lucky to have had so many amazing people who empowered me, made space for me, and most important, taught me key lessons throughout my career. They all had one thing in common – they never saw my success as a threat or challenge to them, simply a validation of their own achievement in leadership and management. That is my inspiration every day, and the bar to which I hold myself accountable.
Scott reflects the energy he receives from you back to you in such an incredibly powerful way. Investing in him is like investing in the sun as a power source – it just continues to give and give, not just back to me but to everyone around us. I believe that if we all invested in each other this way, then our individual lights would burn brighter, enriching those around us and inspiring them to actively practice this in their own lives.
When thinking about what advice I would offer to others, a few things come to mind:
Do not be afraid of what you don’t know, or to admit what you don’t know. Humility and honesty are critical as a part of this journey, as important as any positive intentions.
Scott Sallée (he/they)
Scott is the Social Impact Manager for the UK at Dentsu. He dedicates his time to equipping the next generation of talent with the skills they will need to thrive in the digital economy, creating more diversified leadership, and transforming the role of brands in society. A neurodivergent advocate for neurodiversity, he is passionate about intersectionality, psychological safety, and sustainability. He co-Chairs the Wellbeing Committee, is on the Steerco of &Proud, leads the all-company Meditation Mondays, is a board member of the @ipa (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) Creative Pioneers, and is an ambassador for NABS, the industry’s wellbeing charity partner.
Beth Freedman (she/her)
Beth is the CEO at dentsu x. She oversees the UK operations ensuring the agency’s clients benefits from its unique set of capabilities in media, technology, creativity, and data. Beth boasts more than 20 years’ experience and has held senior roles at renowned agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Arnold and Fallon operating across several disciplines including media planning, client servicing and creative. Beth is dentsu's executive sponsor of &Proud, the agency’s LGBTQ+ network, recognised by Stonewall as 59th in the Top 100 of the 2022 Workplace Equity Index as well as receiving a 2022 Gold Award for bi and trans inclusion.
About the 'My Ally and Me' story-telling series:
At We Create Space we always aim to lift and amplify the voices of our global queer collective of change-makers. However with this story-telling series we wanted to give LGBTQ+ leaders the opportunity to bring an ally into the conversation and explain how their valued support has shaped their personal and professional journey.
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