10 Ways to be Proud

rainbow flag on cloudy sky background

Pride is for life – not just for June says Cat Wildman, Founder of Powered by Diversity, as she offers 10 ways your organisation can celebrate and include your LGBTQIA+ employees and attract LGBTQIA+ talent – and customers year round.

Pride month is all about LGBTQIA+ visibility and celebration, but what about the other 11 months of the year?

1: Find out how your LGBTQIA+ employees really feel

One of the most impactful and purposeful things you can do is to measure how your LGBTQIA+ employees feel about topics like belonging and professional opportunities, do they feel psychologically safe to speak up about things when they need to? Can they be their authentic selves at work? Is flexible working working for them?

What better way to celebrate Pride than by knowing you are doing right by the community? That’s definitely something to celebrate.

You can do this in just 8 minutes with Powered By Diversity’s EDI Health Check – HR World Members will get 20% off.

2: Re-read all of your policies through the lens of LGBTQIA+ parents

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard heart-wrenching stories about same sex parents facing unequal and unfair treatment. Re-read all of your policies through the lens of LGBTQIA+ parents and look for fairness in terms of flexible working, adoption leave, parental leave, time off for appointments (whether that’s fertility treatment, fostering training or adoption meetings).

Focus on language – make sure it’s inclusive of all types of families – and all types of identities.

Crucially, have your LGBTQIA+ employees feed into your policies to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

3: Look at all your forms through the lens of non-binary employees

Man, woman, male, female, Mr, Mrs, Ms…these are all binary terms – what about those whose identities fall in between or outside these binaries?

Are they included in all the places you gather data? Are they “other” on your forms?

Think through all the places your organisation gathers data, whether that’s customer data, employee data, forms, applications, sign-ups…and make sure people whose gender identities fall outside the binary are included.

You can turn your logo rainbow all you want but if your customer or employee form has a tick box “male” or “female”, this is a tell-tale sign that your Pride efforts are just for show.

4: Policies alone are useless

Great policies are alive. They are living, breathing documents that simply put down in writing, the inclusive workplace you have – and want to maintain.

Terrible policies are dusty old documents which only get reviewed when legislation changes.

It’s fair to say that most policies are filed internally and referred to once in a blue moon, but what if your policies were on the outside? What if you were to make them publicly visible to your customers and potential employees?

How would they change?

These are the types of policies that truly inclusive companies should be aiming for.

5: Rainbows for safety never for profit

Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag as a symbol of acceptance and celebration of LGBTQIA+ identities and a beacon of freedom and safety for all people to be able to live authentically without fear.

It should go without saying that organisations should never use the rainbow flag as a profit-making marketing exercise – but you’d be surprised how many still try to do this.

The rainbow flag used on lanyards, pins, your logo – and even office cupcakes – should be used as a sign of allyship and a symbol to say to the LGBTQIA+ community “you are safe here”.

Anywhere you are using a rainbow for other reasons should be rethought.

6: Educate employees about pronouns

If you are thinking of asking your employees to add pronouns to their email signatures or to state them before talks or meetings, please educate them first about why this is helpful to some members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Recently I have seen some backlash against “using pronouns”. One LinkedIn post I read recently said “I don’t use pronouns and I am proud of it”. The post was from someone who had been asked to state their pronouns for something at work. The post showed a clear misunderstanding about what a pronoun is – and confusion about why they had been asked to state theirs.

This turned into anger and them sounding off on LinkedIn which, instead of being inclusive to LGBTQIA+ community (which is presumably what the organisation was trying to do by asking employees to state their pronouns) turned into an internet pile-on from fellow people who also didn’t understand – and ended up being the opposite of LGBTQIA+ inclusive.

7: Watch your language

Morning ladies and gents…

The girls in Marketing…

It’ll take a lot of manpower…

Husbands and wives are welcome…

There is binary and heteronormative language like this everywhere and LBGTQIA+ inclusive language is not about eradicating all instances of the examples above from our lexicon forever or else.

It’s about getting into the mindset of:

  1. Becoming conscious about the ways in which you use language as an organisation
  2. Thinking about who you could be excluding (or offending) with it
  3. Thinking through what harm that could do to your business if you continue to use it
  4. Deciding whether you are OK with that as an organisation

As a colleague of mine once told their client “by all means, continue to open your charity benefit with “good morning ladies and gentlemen” but don’t then be upset if your non binary billionaire donor takes their money elsewhere”.

8: Look for representation everywhere

Look around your organisation. Everywhere you see a couple or parents or families in print, training, examples, illustrations, photographs, on your products, advertising, packaging – make sure you are representing all types of couples, parents and families.

You can be sure your LGBTQIA+ employees and customers will notice if you don’t.

9: Talk to your children

Ask any LGBTQIA+ parent and their fears and worries will be the same – will my kid be bullied because of our family?

I don’t know about you, but I would be mortified if my kid was the one doing it.

So when I hear the question, “how young should I start talking to my kids about LGBTQIA+ topics?” my answer is always “as soon as they are old enough to hurt another kid’s feelings by asking an insensitive question”.

Heteronormative education for kids is everywhere – every book, TV show and movie. It’s up to us as parents to seek out age appropriate ways to show our kids that there are other ways to be, other ways to love and other ways to live.

Don’t leave it to the 5 year old with two dads in the playground to be the one who has to educate your kid – and risk getting hurt in the process.

10: Be loud and proud

It’s become a bit fashionable at the moment to dismiss inclusive behaviour as “woke nonsense”, laugh about some inclusive efforts being ‘a step too far’ – or roll our eyes and dismiss certain things as “political correctness gone mad”.

Hundreds of LGBTQIA+ people each year take their own lives – or are killed.

The more mainstream and ‘normalised’ it becomes to laugh about gender identity, refuse to be inclusive and turn a blind eye to discrimination the more this number will increase.

This Pride month, decide to be the one to stand up for inclusion and be loud and proud in shutting down hate and discrimination, wherever you see it.

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