Pride Month is an opportunity for many 2SLGBTQIA+ communities around the world to come together to celebrate visibility, diversity, acceptance, love, community and the power of connection.
While Pride Month gives us many reasons to celebrate, it is also a reminder that there is still much more to do on a global scale and that the fight for acceptance, inclusion and equality is far from over. And that rings true especially in the workplace, where many members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community still experience discrimination, discomfort and barriers to equal opportunity and advancement.
Celebrated in June in many countries, the month was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, a seminal moment in LGBTQ history. This wasn’t the first riot that started the gay rights movement. As this article on the history of the Stonewall riots claims, “what was different about Stonewall was that gay activists around the country were prepared to commemorate it publicly. It was not the first ‘rebellion’, but it was the first to be called ‘the first,’ and the act of naming mattered.”
The Stonewall riots were evidence of how the movement had grown rapidly in strength and in many ways, the riots helped catalyze the 2SLGBTQIA+ rights movement into what it has become today.
According to this June 2021 Catalyst report, 20% of LGBTQ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs and that those experiences further vary by race and ethnicity. Pay can also be affected. According to the report, 22% of LGBTQ Americans have not been paid equally or promoted at the same rate as their peers. The report also claimed that almost half (46%) of LGBTQ workers in the United States are “closeted in the workplace” and report feeling exhausted due to spending time and energy hiding their authentic selves or being subjected to biased jokes. And the situation is even worse for transgender women who are subjected to different types of hate, including bathroom accessibility, being referred to by incorrect pronouns and having to endure inappropriate questioning. In the U.K., the report found that 35% of LGBTQ employees and 51% of transgender employees conceal their identity in fear of discrimination. And according to this McKinsey & Company report, it’s more difficult for people outside Europe and North America to come out at work. Three-quarters of North American respondents and 78% of European respondents were broadly out at work compared to only 54% of respondents from other regions.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace for ALL
The importance of fostering a culture of inclusion is, as this article says, “a business imperative, not a trend.” The article shared Deloitte insights that revealed that “inclusive cultures translate into value: Organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times more likely to be high performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.”
Inclusive work environments often determine whether 2SLGBTQIA+ employees leave or stay in their jobs. According to the Catalyst report, 25% of LGBTQ employees reported staying in a job due to a LGBT-inclusive work environment and 10% left a job because the work environment did not accept LGBTQ people.
4 Ways To Celebrate Pride in the Workplace in June and Beyond
Pride Month is an ideal time to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to reflect on how you can support your 2SLGBTQIA+ workforce all year long. Read on to discover four ways to celebrate pride in June and beyond.
1. Walk the Walk Year Round for 2SLGBTQIA+ Community
Promoting, sponsoring and participating in Pride Month events is a sure way to show employees, prospects and partners that your company is supportive and welcoming to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. But if you truly support this community, why not show them your support and ongoing commitment all year round?
At Vena, for instance, we’ve held learning labs and workshops throughout the year with The Get REAL Movement, a Canadian nonprofit focused on combatting 2SLGBTQ+ discrimination, racism and bullying in schools, summer camps and workplace. We’ve also supported and attended an annual conference hosted by Venture Out, Canada’s first and largest tech and social impact nonprofit organization connecting LGBTQA2S+ people in tech to career opportunities, mentors and each other.
As more companies are “rainbow” or “pink” washing (jumping on the Pride bandwagon as an advertising opportunity or to sell products), it’s important to show that your efforts are authentic—during Pride Month and beyond. This means truly walking the walk in how you look inward as an organization and reflect not only representation in your company, but also how your employees get to experience a sense of inclusion and community in your workplace.
Being a champion for 2SLGBTQIA+ equality includes:
- Designing your people programs with inclusivity in mind, from the hiring process, compensation and benefits packages, right down to the policies and opportunities for advancement
- Using and promoting inclusive language in your organization
- Making sure your branding and corporate designs and images reflect diversity
- Showing your public support
- Partnering with 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations and businesses
- Giving back to the community
- Participating in 2SLGBTQIA+ events all year long
- Keeping a lens focused on intersectionality in all your inclusivity work
Hear what Camille Dundas, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Canada’s largest Black online magazine ByBlacks.com, says about why intersectionality is important to diversity, equity and inclusion. Click the video below.
2. Share 2SLGBTQIA+ Stories and Experiences
Oftentimes, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community can feel tokenized or like an “only” within an organization (the only one on a team or in a meeting with their gender identity, sexuality or race). The McKinsey & Company report on how the LGBTQ+ community fares in the workplace revealed that LGBTQ+ women face more inappropriate comments and sexual harassment at work and that LGBTQ+ women—especially women of color—are dramatically more likely to experience being an “only”.
In fact, the Catalyst report revealed that nearly two thirds (59%) of non-LGBTQ employees believe it’s “unprofessional” to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, making it even harder for members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel comfortable being their authentic selves.
How can you assist your 2SLGBTQIA+ workforce, create an inclusive environment for them and encourage them to bring their authentic selves to work? By providing them with a support system. This includes encouraging them to share their stories and experiences (only if they are comfortable doing so), giving them the opportunity to speak up for change and leading by example.
Kendra James-Anderson, Virtual CFO, owner of The Finance Femme and member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, says "“Regardless of the profession or type of business you have, you should bring your authentic self to work every day. Click the video below to hear more of Kendra's thoughts on pride in the workplace.
Showcasing diverse voices in your company not only gives everyone the freedom to be themselves in their professional lives, it also helps develop 2SLGBTQIA+ allyship, inspires all of your employees to thrive in the workplace and provides minority and underrepresented groups with hope for the future.
3. Recognize the Achievements of 2SLGBTQIA+ Employees
Highlighting the representation and achievements of your 2SLGBTQIA+ employees and sharing this messaging in your branding sends prospective talent a strong message: your workplace has a welcoming, inclusive and diverse culture.
But according to this article, although an increasing number of companies have risen to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community through campaigns, there’s still a long way to go to ensure all efforts are authentic. The article quoted research commissioned by the Gay Times and Karmarama in which 64% of adults think it’s positive for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible in advertisements, while 72% of the LGBTQ+ community think the way they are represented is tokenistic.
In today’s world where authenticity is becoming increasingly important to consumers, brands need to be careful, as this article says, to ensure that “their Pride initiatives are flying the flag in a way that actually drives change and supports LGBTQ+ causes in the process.”
4. Ensure 2SLGBTQIA+ Representation in Leadership
According to the Catalyst report, openly LGBT corporate leaders are rare. The report claims that “fewer than 0.3% of Fortune 500 board directors were openly LGBT in 2020.” And it was only in 2018 that Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes, became the first openly gay woman to run a Fortune 500 company.
Having visible 2SLGBTQIA+ leadership at your company not only encourages employees to bring their true selves to work, according to this article, it also can have a major impact on engagement. The article claims that 2SLGBTQIA+employees are 85% more likely to be out at companies where senior executives are also out.
Promoting Pride in the Workplace
Pride doesn’t start and end in June. Let that rainbow flag fly all year round. Supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is an ongoing commitment and shows those inside and outside of your workplace that your company not only supports 2SLGBTQIA+ community, but that it is truly an inclusive environment that welcomes all.