Celebrating LGBTQ+ in the Workplace Beyond Pride Month
This year in Visit.org‘s home base of New York City, the energy around Pride is magnified as we host World Pride and honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot.
While we are undoubtedly becoming more inclusive as a society, this does not erase the truth that visibility has come at a great price for many. Moreover, progress has been uneven. The celebration of Pride is only made more powerful in light of these hard truths. So, as allies, we at Visit.org know that supporting the LGBTQ+ community goes beyond showing up for the party. The parades will return next June, but as a society, our commitment to creating inclusive communities should continue year-round.
The Significance of Pride Month
Pride is special because it is a celebration born out of protest. It is the colorful insistence on the right to live, love, and be visible.
While we may see some progress in creating safe spaces for the marginalized, there is much more work to be done. We are only three years removed from the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub, the deadliest attack against the LGBTQ+ community in American history. And more recently, on the first day of this year’s Pride Month, Chynal Lindsay, a black trans woman, was found murdered in Dallas. She is the third transgender woman to be found killed in the same city in less than a year.
Pride Month is significant because it teaches us that visibility is still a form of protest. It also teaches us that to insist upon joy in the face of hate is a declaration of the right to live, quite literally, and to live fully.
Beyond Pride Month: How To Show Support in the Workplace
There are so many ways we as individuals and as leaders in our communities and workplaces can take Pride Month’s lessons and enthusiasm into the year.
Let’s start with continuing to listen and learn from our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.
At a recent panel I attended on Pride in the Workplace held at LMHQ, one of the panelists told a very useful story about how gender neutral bathroom signage at Spotify was installed. Because the language they used was not reviewed by the LGBTQ+ employee resource group, it was found to be well-intentioned but diminishing of the importance of safe bathrooms for trans employees. Leadership heard this feedback and changed the signs based upon their suggestions.
This is a great illustration of how creating space for voices to be heard makes doing the right thing easier and more effective. It all starts with listening to individual employees.
A few concrete actions workplaces leaders can take include:
- reviewing the company’s LGBTQ+ or diversity resource group to make sure it is truly inclusive of all identities
- providing safe opportunities for employees to self-identify
- leading by example
Corporate Social Responsibility: Taking a Public Stand & Updating Policies
Corporate leadership can also make a considerable impact when choosing to stand up publicly for equality.
Walmart, for example, made a very public statement against a 2015 bill that was discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ individuals. The following year, they began providing insurance coverage for trans employees.
While not every company is going to wield the political weight of Walmart, their leadership is something we can all learn from as the fight for equality in pay, rights, and political representation continues around the globe.
Smaller companies will find that allying themselves with other companies and organizations that share their values, and using their purchasing power to support pro-equality causes, are some of the biggest ways they can wield their influence for good.
Likewise, from an internal perspective, it will benefit companies to review pay, health insurance, and leave policies in order to ensure that the inclusive spaces they are creating at work also translate to true.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Organizations
One of the most valuable ways companies can be allies is by contributing to organizations working to advocate for and support the LGBTQ+ community, day-in and day-out.
Soup kitchens, community health centers, and advocacy organizations need companies’ support year-round to provide necessary services for LGBTQ+ communities at risk of HIV, violence, and homelessness — many of whom consist of youth and people of color.
One such organization is The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a nonprofit in New York City reminding us that AIDS is far from over. Even though it is much less visible in the media, infection rates are on the rise for women, people of color, and men who have sex with men. As the preventative medication PrEP remains out of reach due to high cost for many of the most at-risk individuals, supporting the work of organizations that provide community-based care, like GMHC, is crucial to saving lives. And companies are in the position to make an impact.
Employee engagement through volunteering, organizing a supply drive to support a local nonprofit, or bringing speakers into the office who can discuss these issues and give advice about how to make changes in the office and outside of it, are easy ways to bake inclusion into company culture year-round.
Happy Pride, today, and tomorrow, and all year long!