Becoming LGBTQ+ Allies: Going Beyond DEI Initiatives for Pride Month
Over the past several years, organisations have used Pride month to begin, reinvent or sharpen up their DEI efforts for members of the LGBTQ+. But it only happens once a year; for many people, more is needed beyond this concentration of action once a year. Instead, organisations will need to become active allies for the LGBTIQ+ community throughout the year by creating an inclusive environment at work. The work of becoming an active ally to support co-workers of the LGBTQ community involves more than just celebration, and this article will examine some of the ways businesses can show their commitment to not only raising awareness for the rights of the community but also to prioritise equal rights.
What is an ally?
In a few words, we can understand that being an LGBTQ+ ally means actively supporting and advocating for the rights, dignity, and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. In the workplace, being an ally involves creating an inclusive and accepting environment where LGBTQ+ colleagues can feel safe, valued, and respected.
5 Ways organisations empower their employees to be allies for the LGBTQ+ Community.
- Develop and Enforce Inclusive Policies and Practices: Policies protecting LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment are essential for organisations, including and supporting community employees. That can be done by ensuring inclusive language in company communications and having policies that ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals have equal opportunities for career advancement, promotion, and leadership roles. Organisations must set the tone for their employees, which requires action and intention.
- Provide Education and Training: Organisations must provide comprehensive education and training on LGBTQ+ issues, terminology, and experiences. That can be done by offering workshops, seminars, or online resources to increase employee awareness and understanding. The education should cover topics such as LGBTQ+ history, intersectionality, and the challenges faced by the community. Educating employees on issues like this will teach them to listen, respect and look at their prejudices - helping them become better allies to their co-workers.
- Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establishing LGBTQ+ employee resource groups or affinity networks within the organisation to help create a safe space for discussion. These groups provide a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies to connect, share experiences, and collaborate on initiatives that promote inclusion. Organisations can support these groups by allocating resources, budget, and executive sponsorship.
- Leadership Support: Leaders and managers should openly support LGBTQ+ employees and allyship efforts. They should set the tone by demonstrating inclusive behaviours, including using inclusive language and addressing any discrimination or bias in the organisation. Leadership support helps create a culture of acceptance and sets expectations for the entire organisation.
- Establish Feedback and Listening Channels: Establish feedback mechanisms where employees can provide suggestions, voice concerns, or share their experiences related to LGBTQ+ inclusion. Actively listen to employee feedback and make necessary improvements based on their input; this demonstrates that the organisation values employee perspectives and is dedicated to continuous improvement.
Why is it important for Organisations to Support the LGBTQ+ Community?
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community promotes a culture of inclusivity and diversity within the organisation. Embracing and celebrating differences, including sexual orientation and gender identity, fosters a sense of belonging among all employees. In addition, when employees feel valued for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it increases employee morale, engagement, and productivity.
It also has additional benefits, including:
- Attracting and Retaining Talent: Creating a supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community helps attract and retain diverse talent, especially in the current competitive job market, where many candidates actively seek organisations prioritising inclusivity and equality.
- Employee Wellbeing and Mental Health: Supporting the LGBTQ+ community directly contributes to the wellbeing and mental health of LGBTQ+ employees. Employees who feel supported, accepted, and respected experience reduced stress and anxiety levels.
- Brand Image and Reputation: Organisations that champion LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity contribute to building a positive brand image and reputation. Consumers, clients, and stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to prioritise diversity and social responsibility.
- Social Impact and Corporate Social Responsibility: Organisations can make a positive social impact by supporting the LGBTQ+ community. By actively engaging in initiatives, sponsorships, and partnerships that promote LGBTQ+ rights and equality, companies can contribute to broader social progress.
June is a time for celebration, but, more importantly, it is a time to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ people and educate people to become effective allies in the community. It is only one month, but the issues are significant throughout the year. Organisations should use June to be more active in communicating their policies and initiatives, but it should have already been a part of their people practices strategy. It is also critical to allow LGBTQ+ people the space to become powerful voices while their friends and coworkers support them by taking action to become an ally.