59% of non-LGBTQ workers think that it is unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. The struggle for LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity, and inclusion is ongoing. 

Pride Month is symbolic of resilience and courage in the face of adversity. Therefore, corporates seeking to celebrate Pride Month authentically as allies must use employees’ authentic selves as the rallying point for any employee engagement campaigns.

Why celebrating Pride Month is more important than ever?

Pride is an opportunity to support the LGBTQIA+ community – acknowledging the progress that has been made and the road ahead to build a more inclusive world. Today, the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face challenges related to human rights and inequalities. 

A workplace study from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation showed that 25% of LGBTQ+ workers reported feeling distracted from work while 31% reported feeling unhappy or depressed at work. 

Research has shown that companies that commit to and foster more diverse cultures and leadership are more successful. Companies can better attract talent, meet their customers’ needs and wants, engage employees, and see improved decision-making. Supporting LGBTQIA+ rights also fits in with the United Nations’ Sustainable Developments Goals, specifically SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.

How can you celebrate Pride Month effectively?

There are different ways to celebrate Pride Month meaningfully and in a way that engages employees. Here’s a comprehensive campaign toolkit with ideas, thought starters, and resources for you to engage your employees and start the conversation around inclusivity during Pride Month.

First of all, start by listening

Some colleagues and managers might not be aware of the issues some employees are experiencing in the workplace in terms of diversity and inclusion. It is important not only to know how your employees see your company in these terms but also to know how your employees are dealing with it.

You can prepare an anonymous survey to get feedback about how inclusive your company is, and better understand your workforce in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and level of comfort with sharing this information. Ask how your company, colleagues, and managers can help to make the workplace more inclusive.

Encourage employees to learn about LGBTQ+ rights and inclusive language 

The language we use is important. We use expressions, phrases, and idioms that were accepted by society in the past, yet some of this vocabulary is still part of our everyday life. What may seem harmless and funny to a non-LGBTQIA+ employee may deeply hurt someone from the LGBTQIA+ community.

53% of LGBTQ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people (and 41% transgender-specific and 37% bisexual-specific jokes), while only 37% of their non-LGBTQ counterparts report hearing the same jokes. 

Getting informed by learning about the history, rights, and current issues the queer community faces can be a powerful step to building empathy at work. 

Here are some resources to get you started:

Human Rights Campaign Glossary of sexual orientation and gender expression terms.

Corporate Equality Index – a benchmarking tool for companies on LGBTQ+ practices. 

A Workplace Divided- A comprehensive study of the issues faced by LGBTQIA+ employees at the workplace.

Implement or review your existing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) policies to support LGBTQIA+ employees

A supportive policy is an important way to show all your employees that you care and that they are secure and protected. If you have a policy, consider reviewing it with a lens of diversity and inclusion. 

A good place to start is by familiarizing oneself with the best DEI practices at a few organizations spanning a range of industries such as consulting, tech, finance, FMCG, and retail. 

  • Accenture

This professional services company boasts a global ally program with more than 110,000 members to support LGBTQ employees. They show their support as a global company with LGBTQ employee resource groups in over 45 countries by joining with partners to help operationalize the UN’s LGBTI Standards of workplace equality. 

  • Apple

Apple promotes a company culture of inclusion with over 25,000 employees participating in the company’s ERGs, including [email protected] In 2019, Tim Cook was awarded the GLSEN Champion award for his work fighting for LGBTQ rights through company initiatives and community outreach while at Apple. Every year Apple releases a new special edition Apple Watch for Pride and through that effort donates to LGBTQ organizations like GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, and more. 

  • Gap Inc. 

Gap has continuously supported its employees throughout the years, most recently receiving a perfect score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the 15th consecutive year. Their LGBTQ employee resource group, “GEAR,” aims to support employees from organizing participation in Pride parades, to providing resources for same-sex couples.

  • Land O’Lakes

Land O’ Lakes, an agricultural cooperative known for its dairy products, walks the walk when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion. In fact, Land O’ Lakes is the first Fortune 500 firm to hire an openly gay woman as CEO. Diversity and inclusion are at the core of everything they do, and Beth Ford, the CEO, has made it a point to emphasize that everyone should be able to bring their authentic selves to work. 

  • Prudential

Prudential Financial, one of the world’s top insurance, investment, and financial services providers, takes the support of the LGBTQ community very seriously. In fact, the company’s first Business Resource Group was EAGLES, now known as PRIDE. The BRG was formed in 1993 and works to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ employees. In 1996, Prudential added “sexual orientation” to its written non-discrimination policy, and the company was one of the first to provide domestic partnership benefits to employees in 2000.

Actually attend a Pride celebration with your team or organization

As Pride events around the world are starting to come back in person, organize a time to celebrate safely! Attend your local area’s Pride parade, festival, or other celebrations as a group and represent your company. The International LGBTQIA+ Travel Association is a great place to find your nearest Pride event.

Highlight and Support LGBTQIA+ Art and Artists

Art and artists have always led the charge when it comes to LGBTQIA+ inclusion and equity. Engaging with them is the best way to start conversations and foster meaningful dialogue about diversity and inclusion. It is also a great way to break the ice surrounding touchy LGBTQIA+ topics that non-LGBTQIA+ employees might be hesitant to discuss.

Volunteer for LGBTQIA+ causes

Goodera and its non-profit partners have created a host of meaningful activities in support of the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month 2022 as part of Goodera’s #ShowSomeLove campaign. These opportunities cover in-person, hybrid, and virtual activities that teams of employees can undertake in order to support local and global LGBTQIA+ communities. 

The activities cover advocacy, education, support, and encouragement. Activities such as writing letters of gratitude for LGBTQIA+ elderly of color, recording video messages of love and support to the LGBTQIA+ community, and creating digital fact cards on emotional health for the LGBTQ+ youth, among others are meaningful ways to be an ally to the community during Pride Month. Not only do they engage employees and give them an emotional anchor to the community, but they also spark interactions and conversations that go beyond just the month of June.

As long as 66% of the LGBTQIA+ workforce continues to be hushed when they discuss topics of sexual orientation or gender at work, they cannot be their authentic selves at work. And unless this happens, our corporate structures and workplaces cannot be seen as the safe spaces we project them to be, and that is why we need to celebrate Pride Month effectively as true allies and not just performative corporate entities.

Author(s)

  • Abhishek

    Founder, CEO

    Goodera

    Abhishek is the founder and CEO of Goodera, a CSR, volunteering and sustainability management platform used globally by corporations, foundations, governments, non-profits and employees to fulfill their philanthropic goals. Abhishek has been part of Forbes 30 under 30, MIT Innovators under 35 and is a leader in the evolution of responsible and sustainable business. Humbad holds a B.E. in Engineering from BITS Pilani and received his MBA from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore