Taking Pride

Sacha Harvey, Head of People & Culture at THRIVE discusses flying the Pride flag beyond the month of June.

It’s Pride Month and like clockwork, many businesses across the UK are attempting to show their support by hanging up multi-coloured rainbow displays and posting social media avatars. But the sad fact remains that the workplace can still sometimes be a challenging and even hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

This is reflected in a poll conducted this month (June 2022) by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Disappointingly, this survey found that three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents reported that their line managers were not given training around inclusion of LGBTQ+ workers. It also suggested a lack of support for LGBTQ+ individuals in their wider organisations. Just under half (49 per cent) said that senior management championed LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their organisation, while only two in five (39 per cent) said they had visible LGBTQ+ role models.

Although it is welcoming to see more businesses make efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community, there is concern that much of this is nothing more than empty gesturing. At a time of growing awareness and acceptance – but also challenges – companies need to approach Pride not as an isolated marketing moment, but as one of many opportunities throughout the year to use their reach and influence to support the LGBTQ+ community in authentic and impactful ways.

Here are just a few ways how:

Language

Language is a very powerful tool. Although certain terms are very commonplace in our everyday conversations, many are rooted in socially constructed concepts that need to be challenged. One example of this is pronouns. We frequently use pronouns without thinking, but in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implied. These associations are not always accurate or helpful. Verbal introductions and check-ins are great opportunities to solicit gender pronouns. You can also edit your email signature to include your pronouns. Avoid blanket terms like “ladies and gentlemen” which can be offensive.

Workplace policies

Review workplace policies to ensure they are inclusive and reflective of all staff members. Producing an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) strategy would outline how an organisation intends to promote equal opportunities for progression, challenge outdated stereotypes and discourage all forms of discrimination. This needs to go beyond posters and commercial messaging.

Educate

Training is another avenue that would help create a more welcoming, informed environment. The burden of education should not be placed on the oppressed, who are simultaneously experiencing exclusion. Here, a company can include training on topics like coming out at work, understanding pronouns, gender identity and sexual orientation, and supporting transitioning co-workers.

Celebrate

Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community – and not just during Pride month. Fostering a culture of inclusion all year round should be a business imperative, not a trend. You can do this by designing people programmes with inclusivity in mind, from the hiring process to compensation and benefits packages. Highlight the representation and achievements of LGBTQ+ employees and share this messaging. This will send prospective talent a strong message – that your workplace has a welcoming, inclusive and diverse culture.

Support

Often, members of the LGBTQ+ community can feel tokenised. Showcasing diverse voices in your company gives everyone the freedom to be themselves in their professional lives and helps develop allyship. This, in turn, can foster a culture where colleagues are genuinely curious while demonstrating compassion and acknowledgement that different experiences shape minority groups. Employee resource groups are another very effective way to build a strong peer-to-peer support network and raise awareness around the importance of inclusion.

Don’t delay

If you’re eager to get started, we encourage you to visit THRIVE, the world’s first, complete Learning and Skills Platform, where you can find a plethora of equality and diversity resources this month, completely free. This includes a gender identity resource that covers key terms, why it’s important to be aware of them, and how we can create a more inclusive work culture.

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