Happy Pride Month! Pride is about acceptance and celebrating progress and to show continued and consistent support for visibility, representation, and equal opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. This is also a significant opportunity to engage, educate and reflect further on what more we can do as allies and advocates of our LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends, families and neighbours.
Our Business Development Executive Orla McKeating highlights some key reasons the importance of celebrating pride.
Since the first Pride in June 1970 there have been many achievements for the LGBTQ+ community including decriminalisation in many countries (although not all), same sex marriage, adoption and parental rights and improved healthcare and mental health support however LGBTQ+ people still face many barriers in the workplace such as employment discrimination, a hostile work environment, micro aggressions, unequal policies or procedures and a lack of role models and support. These are crucial to address in the workplace and beyond to ensure that all people have equal rights and opportunities regardless of their identity.
Here are some reasons why it matters;
– 35% of LGBTQ+ staff in the UK had hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at work due to fear of discrimination.
– 41% of LGBTQ+ workers had heard negative remarks or jokes about LGBTQ+ people at their workplace. 
– According to the Stonewall report mentioned earlier, 58% of LGBTQ+ staff had experienced mental health issues due to hiding their identity at work.
– In the same Stonewall report, it showed that organizations that had inclusive policies and practices had more satisfied and productive LGBTQ+ employees.
So how do we embrace and empower all employees in Pride month and throughout the year to take meaningful and sustainable action?
Start with staff
Think about what challenges they might face and what authentic involvement and support might look like. Avoid assumptions about people in the workplace and listen to understand the needs of this group. Encourage working groups and LGBTQ+ role models or advocates within the company. Offer allyship, mentorship and guidance within the organisation.
Policies & Strategies
Ensure there is a well understood and delivered Diversity and Inclusion policy, strategy, and plan in place internally. Make this visible so that potential employees can see your commitment to equality in the workplace and understand that it is an inclusive space to work where they will feel psychologically safe, welcome and where they can be themselves and thrive.
Continued Training & Awareness with an External LGBTQ+ Organisation
Commit to deep learning and development by partnering with a local LGBTQ+ consultant or organization to deliver training to the workplace. This will educate and create community within the workplace to further awareness. Offer support and understanding to LGBTQ+ employees who often experience more mental health conditions. Reach out for expert support when required. We would highly reccommend The Rainbow Project – Northern Ireland and Cara Friend for support in Northern Ireland.
Understand that there are intersectionality’s within the LGBTQ+ community and make this visible in your communications and in how you celebrate Pride and throughout the year.
Support your Local Pride
Support and engage in your local Pride march. This provides support to your internal LGBTQ+ employees and work allies and publicly shares your commitment to the community. Offer corporate support and be public on your workplace being a welcoming and safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to work and thrive.
Use words and phrases that avoid bias, stereotypes, and prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community (and all under-represented groups). Language is powerful and constantly changing. Stay on the pulse of this throughout internal and external comms. Encourage all staff to use pronouns.
Celebrate & Empower
With all of this, share your fantastic work and update the company’s logo with the Rainbow colours. Have Pride themed lunch and learn sessions. Update the Zoom or Teams backgrounds throughout the month. Offer rainbow lanyards for all staff. Avoid ‘rainbow washing’ and ensure you are doing all the hard work internally as well as publicly.
With any change, this will take time. Be prepared to get it wrong, to have challenging conversations and ensure that the conversation is not centred around the hetero majority but the well-being and safety of LGBTQ+ employees.
Be mindful that the experiences of LGBTQ+ people within the workplace can vary widely depending on factors such as geographical location, workplace culture, industry, life experience and individual circumstances. There is no one size fits all approach. Fully committing to creating inclusive policies, raising awareness, promoting diversity, and fostering a culture of acceptance are crucial in addressing these challenges and ensuring equal opportunities for all employees.