During June, people from all walks of life will celebrate LGBT+ pride - whether it’s attending marches, openly advocating for gay rights or simply working on becoming a better ally. This article will look at 7 easy ways to support pride in the workplace and celebrate your LGBT+ employees.
So keep reading as we talk all things pride and show you how to ensure your employees feel safe, represented and supported in the workplace…
1. Learn about pride month
One of the first things you can do to help support LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace is to educate yourself on pride month and why it is so important. Your employees won't expect you to know every single fact in detail, but having a general idea of why pride is important to them will make them feel heard and cared about.
Pride celebrations go back as far as the 60s, marking the anniversary of the New York Stonewall riots in 1969 that followed a police raid. There are plenty of resources that discuss LGBT+ history, riots and pride in detail. For example, Stonewall is a UK charity that provides plenty of information and ideas for helpful ways to make an impact, and there are many more too.
2. Discuss discrimination
Discrimination can be a sensitive topic and ignoring the subject doesn’t make it go away.
Talking about discrimination and having open conversations with your team is a great place to start. You might feel like the work is done if you have a decent discrimination policy in place and openly recruit people of any sexual orientation. However, discrimination can be far more covert and go unnoticed. Signs of staff suffering discrimination in the workplace include:
Becoming withdrawn from the group
Rejected by social groups or cliques within the company
Appearing afraid or scared to speak
Unwilling to discuss topics surrounding their identity
Of course, some signs are more obvious, and those who do things like use hateful speech, hold back progression opportunities, spread rumours or exclude LGBT+ staff members should be punished accordingly.
3. Talk about allyship
What does being an ally mean to your LGBT+ staff? Being an ally goes beyond superficial means of celebration, such as hanging up posters or wearing a rainbow badge. Whilst small symbols of camaraderie can be impactful, being an ally means providing consistent support, uplifting LGBT+ staff members and taking the lead.
Whether you own a business, are an HR manager or a team leader, it’s vital to create a safe space and hold other colleagues accountable for their actions. Be a catalyst for change and empower the rest of your team to become allies, too.
This includes ensuring you report all forms of discrimination (no matter how small), review your discrimination policies, and encourage conversations with your LGBT+ colleagues.
4. Host a pride event at work
What better way to support pride than hosting an event in the office? You can do this even if your staff are working remotely by setting aside some time in the day to get everyone involved.
Why not hire a speaker that is an expert in LGBT+ rights and workplace inclusion? Even the best HR managers or team leaders cannot become experts in the field overnight, so to ensure your whole team gets the benefit of this education, commissioning a speaker is a great way to go.
Or, simply host a day of celebrations and some fun events. Why not hold a rainbow baking contest? Get everyone to bake their best cakes or sweet treats the night before and bring them into the office the next day. Or, hold a pride decoration contest and provide your team with paper, card, pens, paints or custom stamps and let them get crafty.
5. Review your HR policies
Discrimination, diversity and inclusion policies are essential for a properly functioning and fair workplace. They provide the framework for your employees to work within, set out the company stance and help show that your company adheres to the Equality Act 2010.
Discriminatory actions include:
Not having equal opportunities based on race, gender or sexual orientation
Hate speech, whether in person, via email, text or social media
Any form of bullying, verbal harassment or physical abuse
There is no better time than pride month to review your discrimination policies to ensure that staff of any race, gender or sexual orientation are adequately protected and accounted for. It's good to make this policy visible and accessible to all your employees too. It can all help attract new talent, reassure new and existing employees and help to form an inclusive company culture.
6. Make a company charity donation
LGBT+ charities are crucial organisations for modern-day society. Whilst many of us, especially those who don’t identify as LGBT+, might think we live in an equal and fair modern world, this is not the case. From outright verbal abuse to under-the-radar discrimination, LGBT+ charities work hard to support equality for all.
For example, charities such as the LGBT foundation, Mindout, Kaleidoscope Trust, and London Friend work to provide a wide range of protection, support and educational services, and they welcome donations.
If you’re not sure where to donate, consider looking closer to home to see if there are any community products or pride marches that rely on sponsorships. You can also ask LGBT+ members of staff directly as to where they would like to see the money go or create a company poll to get some additional ideas.
7. Make adjustments
Modern-day society is ever evolving. That's why it is a good idea to stay proactive instead of reactive. It’s better to prevent a negative incident from happening altogether than to have a member of staff upset or hurt.
So, do things like review your equality and discrimination policies regularly, keep up to date with LGBT news and events, and have regular meetings to discuss and improve company inclusion.
It’s hard to get it right all the time, and whilst you don’t need to strive for absolute perfection, it's best to ensure your organisation is actively supporting LGBT+ staff members by making the company a safe space to be.
Now you know how to celebrate pride in the office whilst making it a more inclusive place to be. How will your company support LGBT pride this June?
Deborah Woodliffe is the Head of Content & Outreach at Affinity Agency