“I believe that no one should ever have to choose between a career we love and living our lives with authenticity and integrity” – Out & Equal Executive Director, Selisse Berry
It’s Pride Month!
Pride month is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world. It’s also about raising awareness, inspiring change, and promoting equality. Fairness and equality for all shouldn’t be an issue in 2021, right? Unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination. This is also true in the workplace.
The LGBTQ+ community is underrepresented or even excluded completely in everyday situations at work. The Guardian reported that 34% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the UK choose not to disclose their sexuality at work. They hide their private lives from colleagues and clients for fear of homophobia, exclusion, or in case they are overlooked for valuable promotions. No one should feel uncomfortable just for being who they are.
So how can you do your part to become an ally and support your LGBTQ+ Colleagues at work?
Listening is a skill. But it’s also an invaluable sense that connects us as human beings. Being there to listen to someone can make the world of difference when you are part of a minority. To feel seen and heard is a huge part of what pride month is about. Ensure your LGBTQ+ colleagues have a voice in meetings, on projects, and when making decisions or simply that you’re there if they need someone to talk to.
Show your support
Pride month is about visibility. Every workplace needs to be proactive in making sure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome, included, and seen. Showing your support doesn’t mean you need to do anything extravagant. Even small gestures are valuable to the LGBTQ+ community. Wearing a pin on your lanyard or placing a pride flag on your desk are simple ways to show you’re a supporter.
One of the best things you can do is educate yourself on what it all means. Don’t let a lack of understanding hold you back from being an ally. Learn from your colleagues, consume quality content, and research reputable sources online. Avoid making assumptions and speak to your colleagues about their journey and experiences. Education will empower you to be a better supporter of the LGBTQ+ community so you can better understand how to offer support at work in the best way.
Many LGBTQ+ employees feel they don’t have a voice in the workplace. They may not feel comfortable speaking up against issues that affect them, or they may not be open about their sexuality at all. Addressing issues in the workplace such as exclusion or discrimination is essential to create a positive environment for everyone. If you see or hear something offensive towards your colleagues, speak up. Ensure your company knows that what happened isn’t appropriate and importantly – why. Businesses are required to create a safe work environment and their policies should be up to date and reviewed regularly.