Pride Month 2022: how to become an ally for your LGBTQ+ employees all year round

June marks Pride Month. But we’re sure you don’t need us to tell you this.

You probably could have guessed from the cascade of rainbow-inspired art installations popping up all over the country, or from the plethora of business logos that received a multi-coloured makeover on social media.

Here at WPG, we are all for supporting Pride Month and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community in all its glory. But these demonstrative acts of solidarity got us thinking about how else organisations could support the LGBTQ+ community all year round – beyond the 30 days of June.

Here are some of our thought starters:

  • Champion inclusivity

Perhaps the first and most obvious starting point would be to ensure that all internal and external outputs are unbiased and inclusive. For example, if you’re recruiting for a new role, think about the positive action that you can take and the outreach that can be done. Say you are specifically keen to hear from underrepresented or marginalised communities. Include phrases like ‘we are an equal opportunities employer’ or ‘we encourage applications from people of all backgrounds, races, religions, genders, sexes, ages, sexual orientations and disabilities.’ Afterall, inclusion drives better individual, business, and organisational outcomes.

  • Update mission statements and workplace policies

When was the last time you a) reviewed your mission statement, b) looked into your adoption and surrogacy leave, and c) updated your bullying and harassment policy? There’s never been a better time to do so. Make sure that what you said then is still relevant and appropriate. Times have changed. Things have moved on. And we now live in a much more progressive society.

  • Enforce them and keep on enforcing them

But the buck doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve taken the time to update these policies, you must live and embody them. This way, your employees know your workplace is a safe space in which they won’t be judged or discriminated against because of their gender, sex, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Building a psychologically safe culture where everyone feels able to be themselves and share their diverse views is incredibly important and senior leadership are instrumental in role-modelling this.

  • Take time to update your systems

This follows on nicely from the point above. Are your workplace systems still fit for purpose? Or are they unintentionally alienating and discriminating against your LGBTQ+ employees? Maybe your systems don’t allow you to hyphenate your name or only offer the tick-box options of you being a ‘Male’ or ‘Female’. This might sound small, but they are small changes that make a big impact in the pursuit of creating a safe and inclusive workplace.

  • Use of inclusive language and pronouns

Don’t make assumptions – perhaps enquire about someone’s partner rather than assuming they have a husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfriend. Plus, think about encouraging employees to share their pronouns to promote their identity. Whether that’s on their email signature or business cards. But why is it important? Well, how you perceive someone’s identity might not be correct. The world is diverse, and identities are not always binary. You can promote your allyship by sharing your own pronouns to normalise the conversation around identity preferences in the workplace.

  • Spare a thought for your facilities

Before heading back to the office, think about one of the most used –spaces in the workplace: the bathrooms. Plus, if you work in an environment where there needs to be changing facilities – providing a men’s toilet and women’s toilet is not reflective of the diverse range of gender identities. Consider how your working environment is inclusive for all members of the community and what changes may be required to ensure that everyone feels that they have a safe place with access to suitable facilities whilst at work.

  • The summary

It’s all well and good to raise your head above the parapet during Pride Month to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community. But, as logos revert to their original colour schemes, is there anything that you can do throughout the year to keep promoting and expressing your message of solidarity, inclusivity, and allyship?

It could be by setting up a buddying system for those who identify as LGBTQ+, or raising awareness by scheduling a series of workshops with an LGBTQ+ charity for all employees, or reviewing and championing your inclusive policies. These are all ways in which you can make your employees feel able to bring their whole, best and most-authentic self to the workplace.