“Happy Pride!”: the phrase heard around the world in June. With 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the June 28 Stonewall Riots, the much-recognized event that started the global Pride movement, it’s important to take a step back and think about progress that has been made, how much further we need to go, and how we as companies can affect true change in our workplaces and earn the right to call ourselves allies to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Let’s start with a lesser-known phrase also heard throughout Pride Month: “The first Pride was a riot.” Understanding that true pride had to grow from the roots of anger and pure survival is a vital step in being an ally. During Pride, we take the time to truly “Celebrate and Enjoy the Journey” of those who fought and continue to fight hard for their right to exist as comfortably as their straight counterparts. We know that being fully “out and proud” is still not possible for many in the LGBTQIA+ community.
What can we as good citizens to our coworkers, clients, and communities do in order to be true allies LGBTQIA+ people? Consider the following changes, both big and small, that you can make to show your inclusivity in a genuine way:
Ask someone their pronouns:
This is a way to make others feel included. Asking for someone’s pronouns shows that you’re not making an assumption regarding their gender, which can create a real environment of inclusivity and agency for those who have had a lifetime of feeling like the “other.” Consider adding your pronouns to your Email signature – this is an outward sign to those you may be interacting with that you are aware and sensitive to others.
Include all letters of LGBTQIA+ in annual harassment training:
with the rise of people feeling more comfortable being public and bringing their true identities to work, it is important to include discussions on the way people react to create awareness. Change and exposure to new ideas can make people uncomfortable, which could lead to less than respectful interactions, even if unintended. In order to make sure you are “Treating Yourself and Others with Respect,” give employees an opportunity to learn about various identities up front and have tips to combat that discomfort. This can go far in creating positive interactions.
Make your application process more inclusive:
An applicant’s first exposure to how your company thinks can be through your application process. Consider expanding the sexual orientation and gender identity options you provide when asking for an applicant’s information and leave a space for them to write in their own response.
Listen and raise the voices of your employees in marginalized communities:
Having harassment training or set of HR policies reflecting your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is a step in the right direction, but make sure that those policies include the insights of those within the communities. No one is going to give a better voice to the needs of marginalized communities than those who live it day in and day out, so listen to them when they say and work their feedback into your policies so that it adds a level of genuine understanding to it.
Don’t limit Pride to one month:
The LGBTQIA+ community notices when the rainbow logos go away and corporations go back into silence about LGBTQIA+ issues. As the needs of the community exist all year round, considering having a volunteer or donation day sometime outside of June. Being able to support your larger community all year round shows true dedication and care to the cause.
One of the best ways to celebrate Pride is to have policies and procedures in place that support the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. Recognize, respect, and celebrate differences in a way that brings real change to your employees’ lives, as we’re all better off when employees can bring their full selves to work, knowing they are in an environment that is going to support them.