It’s National Pride Month and a chance for businesses serious about putting Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) into practice to do it in real-time. Pride Month is celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riot — a series of protests that happened following a police raid on a gay club in Manhattan, sparking the start of the gay liberation movement.
With parades, festivals and other celebrations going on worldwide, the annual event’s iconic rainbow flag makes for a colourful affair. Beyond the glitz and glamour there is a serious message, however, which employers have a responsibility to acknowledge on behalf of their employees, the clients they work with, and society as a whole.
With this in mind, Jon Lord, our Commercial Manager and EDI steering group member shares five ways you can do your organisation and employees proud during National Pride Month and beyond.
It is imperative that employers are serious about recognising the LGBTQ community and what it represents do so from an educated point of view. National Pride Month is the ideal chance for businesses not yet familiar with the event and the history behind it to bring themselves up to speed. We can’t be expected to know exactly what our employees need all of the time, but as businesses, it is our duty to remain open to learning what those needs are and why at all times.
Only business leaders capable of taking part in the conversation using the relevant terms and definitions recognised by the LGBTQ community of today are going to do so with the respect their employees demand and deserve.
Creating a truly inclusive workplace doesn’t have to start with the formation of a committee or a robust employee strategy. Sometimes it can be as simple as starting with the spoken word. Thinking about how certain conversations within the workplace are framed and encouraging colleagues to think along the same lines can be a highly effective first step towards putting a more robust EDI framework in place moving forward.
Asking a colleague ‘is your partner coming to the event?’ instead of referencing their ‘husband’ or making any other statements is a simple but meaningful change to make, for example.
It can be tempting to make all kinds of assumptions about a person based on the way they look, their heritage or the way they dress, for example. What National Pride Week and the wider LGBTQ movement teaches us is that we shouldn’t ever expect to project attributes on to others based purely upon what we see. Everyone has the right to define the way they choose to express what gender they are, their sexual orientation or any other element of the person they want to be.
Openly supporting anyone who chooses to define themselves in a way that conventional society might not expect of them is a way for employers to show they are truly committed to EDI practices for the benefit of every single person within their workforce.
Making EDI a reality within the workplace is as much about doing away with old behaviours as it is about introducing new ones. Being seen to actively acknowledge, but also address derogatory or any other behaviour which could result in one or more of your employees feeling discriminated against, is key to creating a truly inclusive workspace for everyone.
As is often the case, making a behavioural change at board level (if it needs to be) is probably the best way to make sure it is an attitude that becomes accepted as the norm across the entire organisation.
We can’t always have the answers, or pretend to know exactly where colleagues who may have an issue inside or outside of the workplace regarding their gender, sexual orientation or any other issue are coming from, but what we can always promise to do is listen.
Communicating the availability of this open dialogue to colleagues might involve an existing employee assuming a specialist role or putting a partnership with an external counselling service in place, for example.
Either way, creating a safe space within the workplace where employees can come and talk to someone in confidence and without fear or recrimination demonstrates a very real and clear commitment from you as an employer towards their overall well-being, regardless of the way they choose to define themselves.