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By Phil Sproston, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Top Employers Institute.
By Phil Sproston, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Top Employers Institute.

Growing Pride in LGBT+ Communities

June is Pride Month, dedicated to celebrating LGBT+ communities all around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that events have felt very different this year, with many cancelled, postponed or replaced by virtual alternatives. On June 27th, Global Pride Day, one popular silver lining to the dark cloud of the virus will be live streams of concerts and other celebrations.

In the workplace some employers have, in adversity, encouraged and driven the further development and acceleration of online communities dedicated to greater inclusivity and understanding of LGBT+ issues. Just as Pride Month is all about educating us on tolerance and equality, the wholesale and sudden transformation towards remote and flexible working has created in many organisations a greater imperative towards mutual respect, tolerance and humanity around everyday working relationships.

Even before the pandemic struck, research among our Top Employers in the UK showed that diversity and inclusion had been moving rapidly up the HR priority list – up to the 5th most important priority, from 11th five years ago. Those with defined organisation-wide diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes have increased steadily to 5 in 6 (83%) from 3 in 5 (63%) back in 2015. And the number of Top Employers with a formal LGBT+ network or community has increased by 50% year on year (46% with vs 31% a year earlier)  

Most organisations of all shapes and sizes demonstrate a level of commitment to Pride Month. Many rebrand social media profiles and websites to overtly demonstrate their support. But in the absence of face-to-face opportunities to celebrate Pride Month, certified Top Employers in the UK have placed an increased focus on online community activities. The education and interaction with all employees has been a notable feature of the current pandemic. Here are some examples of UK Top Employers that have made a big difference through their online LGBT+ community activities.

Avanade - Prism

Avanade Prism is the organisation’s LGBT+ employee resource group. The business has been busy celebrating Pride Month, with a range of global initiatives, including:-

  • A webcast series: Throughout June, employees have been invited to a webcast series, called “Connected In Pride”. Topics have included authenticity, storytelling, gender and intersectionality.
  • Webinar: There has been an interactive webinar, where employees discovered more about Avanade's LGBT+ Group – its journey, objectives, challenges and the value of having LGBT+ supporter and allies in the workplace. Attendees got a chance to learn more and become allies themselves.
  • Social media: A rainbow collage competition in which employees can take part and share through social media.
  • Flying the flag: Employees have been able to choose email signatures and backgrounds, showing their support internally and externally through everyday communications.
  • Sharing stories: A range of blogs around LGBT+ inclusion have been written by colleagues and shared internally through newsletters and also on social media.

Cognizant - Embrace

Cognizant formed its Embrace network to drive and support an inclusive working environment for LGBTQIA+ colleagues. During Pride Month, the network has also been celebrating allies of the global LGBTQIA+ community who advocate for genuine, unbiased equality. These visible signs of support for under-represented groups from others have reinforced a real sense of belonging and inclusion.

The community has become more important than ever during the pandemic, when employees have not been able to be physically together. The inclusivity of this community has allowed colleagues to be their true selves whether in the office or working from home, while all supporters and other employees benefit from the opportunity to learn more about issues that affect the LGBTQIA+ community. Cognizant colleagues from 15 countries have posted videos sharing their experiences of supporting the community.

Conclusion

There are few silver linings to the dark cloud of the Covid-19 virus. Yet through adversity the pandemic means that many workplace LGBT+ communities are now flourishing online. The encouragement and development of these communities can only help to accelerate a working world where LGBT+ inclusion is taken for granted every day, rather than for one month in the year.