The journey towards creating a more inclusive work environment is, to put it simply, complex. With Pride Month upon us, we are reminded of how important recognizing and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community is in achieving workplace inclusivity. Despite laudable progress within the past decade, we still have a lot of work to do.
More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year, including more than 3 in 5 transgender Americans.
To avoid the experience of discrimination, more than half of LGBTQ Americans report hiding a personal relationship, and about one-fifth to one-third have altered other aspects of their personal or work lives.
Half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ people (51 percent) have experienced discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBTQ+ community because of their ethnicity.
Windows donning rainbow flags and colorful parades filling the streets are powerful symbols that represent the continuous fight for equality. Now is a better time than ever to evaluate how your actions can make a positive impact during this crucial time for embracing authenticity. To spark your brainstorming session, here are four meaningful ways you can celebrate Pride Month in a business setting.
Educate Yourself as a Leader
You wouldn’t write a history report about a community without first understanding who they are, would you? Probably not. An important first step in the inclusivity process is educating yourself on the people you are striving to support. First, get to know the people that encompass the LGBTQ+ community. The acronym itself stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer, sometimes extending to “I” and “A” for intersex and asexual. Gay and Lesbian describe individuals who is attracted to a member of the same sense, with the former typically describing a male and the latter describing a female. Bisexual indicates someone who is attracted to both male and females. Transgender refers to a person who identifies with a different gender or gender identity than their birth sex. Queer is the umbrella term of anyone who does not ideentify as heteerosexual or cisgendeer (a person whose gender identify matches their sex assigned at birth). Lastly, intersex describes people born with seexual anatomy that does not fit the “male” and “female” boxes, while asexual people who lack sexual attraction to others. If you’re still not exactly sure what some of these terms mean, there are plenty of informative resources to clarify.
With such a diverse group of people comes diverse stories of identity. Read and listen to podcasts, articles, and interviews featuring LGBTQ+ voices. There are countless options for you to discover online. Still Processing, hosted by two Black queer journalists, and Queer America, which details prominent queer figures in American history, are just two great suggestions. No two journeys are the same, but taking the time to value new perspectives is a crucial part of the educational experience.
Amplify LGBTQ+ Voices at Work
While gaining knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community is essential, no amount of research will truly allow you to see the world through their eyes. If you have an advisory board, specifically one that focuses on diversity and inclusion efforts, ensuring that your members are intentionally diverse is essential to making informed decisions. In addition to gender and racial diversity, seek out LGBTQ+ voices that are comfortable and passionate about being a figure in advancing progress. While a few individuals are certainly not representative of an entire group, valuing their perspectives as members of this community is important. If you find that your office doesn’t have LGBTQ+ individuals who wish to provide their input in a work setting, there are other great opportunities for perspective. Research and locate someone who has made a career out of educating others! Host an LGBTQ+ speaker this month to share the story of their identity and journey with your company.
Capitalize on Small Gestures of Inclusivity
A little really does go a long way. When it comes to demonstrating your desire to be inclusive of others, especially during a month that is dedicated specifically to allyship, acts that may seem minor can be purposeful. Hanging the signature rainbow “Pride Flag'' inside or outside the office is a small gesture that lets those around you know that you’ve created an environment that strives to support the LGBTQ+ community. You can also suggest an update to your company email signatures to include pronouns of your employees. Placing “she/her”, “they/them”, etc. following staff names will not only be informative, but will also show your awareness of the importance of proper pronoun recognition.
Make Substantial Change
These minor contributions can certainly be a step in developing an inclusive work culture. However, it should not be the only actions being taken to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Making concrete alterations to company policy or culture is arguably the most impactful way to see positive change at work. A recent LinkedIn study on LGBTQ+ professionals grants factual evidence for this. 31% of respondents they have faced blatant discrimination and microagressions in the workplace, with 1 in 4 leaving a job all together because they did not feel accepted. To reduce these discouraging statistics, ensure that you have outlined explicit anti-discrimination policies at your company. This can help hold employees accountable for harmful actions or words, presenting repercussions for their wrongdoings. The same study stated that 54% of managers and 52% of employees say that their company should offer educational opportunities and bias training. There are vast resources, available both in person and online, available to help support the LGBTQ+ community through workplace training. Eliminating microaggressions and other acts of blatant harassment will help make notable strides in creating an inclusive space for everyone.