We are now well into Pride Month! ??? The month we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and reflect on our behaviours and the history that defines the pride movement. It’s an essential time for many people, and we need to ensure that our businesses are safe spaces for the community to feel comfortable and thrive.
So as a member of the community, here are some of my top tips to make your workplace an LGBTQIA+ ally!
What does LGBTQ+ refer to?
LGBTQ+ is an inclusive acronym that encompasses all sexualities and gender identities.
As the knowledge and understanding of the community has expanded and flourished over recent decades, so too has the acronym, changing from simply LGBT to LGBTQ+ and now even LGBTQIA+.
We now know that there are far more identities and sexualities that can be defined other than gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
1. Diverse Hiring
First, you need to hit the ground running. Build your business to be an inclusive workplace from the ground up!
This means hiring diverse people of not only different sexualities but different genders, races, ages, abilities, and religions. Studies have shown that with diverse hiring, you’re more likely to have an innovative team with creative ideas. But members of the community are more likely to feel comfortable, safe and at ease if they can clearly see the equality and diversity within the team.
People can usually feel if there is something not quite right with a situation, even if they can’t put their finger on it. And it makes people uncomfortable to feel that vibe – having a workplace with no diversity gives that vibe. It’s the last thing you want!
So, start from the fundamentals and hire diverse people.
2. Educate Yourself and Your Staff
It is not someone’s responsibility to explain their sexuality or gender identity to you – and actually, it can be quite exhausting sometimes.
When there are so many resources available in the easiest of places, there is no excuse for blind ignorance. It’s time to take charge of our own learning and for business owners and managers, it’s time to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Local charities will often offer some training sessions on workplace diversity or particularly on sexuality and gender identity. There are courses you can enrol staff on that focus on diversity and LGBTQIA+ Awareness. (For example, this one HERE!)
You can create activities within the workplace that actively encourage learning too. Within the Paratus office, I have created an incentive that includes a weekly quiz on LGBTQIA+ awareness – and of course, there are prizes involved!
People are engaged, they want to win, but they learn the answers to questions they’ve never even thought of before. Edu-tainment!
3. Take Discrimination Seriously
Unfortunately, even today the community faces discrimination daily.
In fact, 75% of LGBTQIA+ employees say they face some form of discrimination almost every day.
That is a STAGGERING number. It needs to be taken seriously.
Make it clear from the point of hiring that discrimination of any kind is not tolerated, and make sure those lines are drawn.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and valued in their workplace, regardless of their identity.
And there need to be consequences for discriminatory behaviour too. Letting it slide will only make your minority employees feel cornered, invaluable and as if they’re wrong for being who they are. That’s not something anybody should have to feel.
4. Take Part in Local Initiatives
I can promise you, there is nothing more fun and freeing than a pride parade. The community coming together in a celebration is an amazing chance to expose your employees to the world of LGBTQIA+ pride.
And it doesn’t matter your identity or the identity of the people in the workplace. Cisgender and straight people are welcome just as much as anyone else.
Trust me, the community needs all the allies we can get!
But there will not only be parades to get involved in but charity events, volunteering days, support groups and safe havens that need as much help as possible. Donate your time, your money and your resources where you can and give back to those who need the help.
5. get involved!
Getting involved is about more than just changing your logo to add rainbows and posting a “happy pride!” post at the start of June.
Of course, not every day of the month has to have some kind of content or event, but a consistent sprinkling of pride throughout will make sure your employees are feeling valued and included.
You have to tread carefully though…
If for example, you want to showcase your LGBTQIA+ employees on social media – great, that sounds wonderful!
But you must get their permission, they must be aware of where you are sharing it and what the post will be about.
You never know – that person could be hiding their identity from their family or certain friends for fear of their own safety or wellbeing. You just need to be mindful of the content you’re putting out there and the initiatives that you put together. Ask yourself these questions first;
- Could I potentially be doing harm with this?
- Is there a chance I could be outing someone by doing this?
- Am I representing the community as a whole, and not marginalizing any of the sub-categories within it?
- Am I ‘rainbow-washing’, or does what I’m doing have a purpose/value?
And if in doubt, ask your LGBTQIA+ colleagues for their thoughts, or contact local support groups and charities for their opinions on your ideas.