Pride Month kicks off a lot of “rainbow marketing” in the corporate world, as companies rush to switch their logos in support of LGBTQ+ employees.
But, actions speak louder than rainbow logos. Many LGBTQ+ employees report not feeling comfortable being their true selves at work, meaning companies need to think beyond a temporary logo switch. A 2020 study by Boston Consulting Group and New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center found that 40% of LGBTQ+ individuals remain closeted at work, with 75% reporting experiencing negative workplace interactions.
It is time for companies to step up and ensure their internal processes are as inclusive as their marketing may suggest. Pride Month is more than a gesture of support - it is a time to inspire real, impactful change with actions that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community! Here are some simple ways to get started and build momentum.
1. Adding pronouns to your organization’s email signatures
Adding pronouns to your organization’s email signatures is a simple, effective step towards inclusivity in the workplace. Not only does it support transgender and non-binary employees and help to minimize misgendering, but it also normalizes discussions about gender and gender identity - conversations that benefit everyone!
Another way to do this is to update your Zoom name or meeting name to include your pronouns. Again, normalizing the discussion and specification of pronouns creates a safe space for others to do the same.
2. Using inclusive language
Inclusive language avoids biases, slang, or expressions that discriminate against groups of people based on race, gender, or socioeconomic status. For example, instead of saying “Hey guys!”, consider “Hey team!” or “Hello, all!” to be more inclusive.
Another example is when referring to your personal life. If you are discussing your weekend plans with co-workers, instead of saying things like “husband”, “wife”, “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, try using more neutral language such as “partner” or “significant other.” Intentionally using gender-neutral titles can make a big difference in how comfortable someone may feel in the workplace.
3. Add more areas along the recruitment and onboarding process to self-identify gender identity & sexual orientation
Is the technology your employees interact with daily inclusive? Many tech platforms, such as your HRIS or onboarding system, may not be creating an inclusive workplace. For example, make sure your platforms have more options for Gender than just male, female, and other. If these products are not inclusive, speak with the developers to see if there are updates available.
If it is not possible for these changes, and you can't switch systems entirely, then acknowledge the limitations. Include a standardized note from HR when sharing login information with a new employee, discussing the drawbacks of the system and the current efforts you are taking to try to do better.
4. Facilitate opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees to connect
Facilitating opportunities for connection and community within the organization can help employees feel more accepted. Set up a mentorship program or Employee Resource Group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ employees. However, be careful not to assume an employee’s membership in the LGBTQ+ community.
Send a company-wide email about the initiative to get feedback - perhaps anonymously - to help you understand the level of interest. If there are several employees interested, go from there, choosing an option that would best serve your employees.
5. Listen, defer to them and take action when LGBTQ+ employees speak out
It takes courage to speak up. So if a queer employee does so, listen. Really listen and believe them. Don’t ask for proof or justification. Don’t automatically dismiss their experiences because you haven’t had the same. This is particularly true if you’re in a position of power at your organization. LGBTQ+ employees, like all others, need to feel welcome, safe, heard, and valued.
At TPD, one of our core values is equity. With a renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion, our leadership team has taken a step back to assess where we’re starting from and what we can do to improve our workplace for all. When we listen, we learn of the gaps in our own systems. We’re challenging ourselves to incorporate these small but meaningful changes to further shape our culture as one where our employees can show up as their true self.
How are you creating a more inclusive workplace? Let us know!